Felipe Massa formally looking for compensation after 2008 F1 crashgate scandal

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Photo Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Felipe Massa has set his lawyers to work in search of compensation after missing out on the 2008 World Championship, following the manipulated Singapore Grand Prix. Enyo Law, the London-based firm that represents the Brazilian claims that their client has been “the victim of a conspiracy committed by individuals at the highest level of F1 together with the FIA and Formula One Management.”

The legal team sent a so-called Letter Before Claim to both Formula 1’s CEO Stefano Domenicali and FIA-president Mohammed Ben Sulayem on the 15th of August, a required formality before any court proceedings will start. The document claims Massa has lost out on tens of millions of lost income as a result of Crashgate, which was allegedly covered up before the news broke in 2009.

During the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jr. crashed on purpose in lap 14 to bring out the safety car, in order to aid the strategy of teammate Fernando Alonso who had already pitted.

In the ensuing chaos on pitlane Massa drove away with the fuel hose still attached, requiring him to stop and wait for it to be removed, eventually resulting in a 13th place finish. Alonso won the race, and at the end of the season Massa would lose out on the World Championship by a single point to Lewis Hamilton.

“Simply put, Mr Massa is the rightful 2008 Driver’s Champion, and F1 and FIA deliberately ignored the misconduct that cheated him out of that title,” the letter says.

“Mr Massa is unable to fully quantify his losses at this stage but estimates that they are likely to exceed tens of millions of Euros.

“This amount does not cover the serious moral and reputational losses suffered by Mr Massa.”

The case gained momentum after former Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone was quoted saying that he and then-FIA-president Max Mosley already knew in 2008 that Piquet Jr. crashed on purpose, but that they didn’t act on it for the bigger picture. The preconceived notion of the incident eventually became clear when Piquet Jr. was sacked by Renault and was no longer obligated to keep silent.

“He was cheated out of the title he deserved, while Hamilton had all the luck in the world and won his first championship,” the 92 year old Briton said in March.

When asked by Reuters, Bernie Ecclestone claimed he has no recollection of the quotes, saying: “I don’t remember any of this, to be honest. I don’t remember giving the interview for sure.”

Following that interview Massa responded that he wanted justice for what happend.

“If the most important people from Formula One and the FIA knew in 2008 and didn’t do anything, you think that was fair? It’s not fair,” he said back in March.

The document further stated that if no satisfactory answer is received within, legal action would be pursued, “in order to seek compensation for the harm he has suffered,” and that he wants “recognition that, but for those unlawful acts, he would have been awarded the 2008 Championship.”

That legal action would then take place without two key players in this saga, as both Max Mosley and then race director Charlie Whiting have passed away in the meantime.