While the Crashgate scandal of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix seemed like a distant memory, recent remarks by Bernie Ecclestone have reignited the controversy. Ecclestone’s interview earlier this year suggested that the FIA and FOM knew about Nelson Piquet Jr.’s deliberate crash well before the 2008 championship concluded but chose to hush it up to avoid a major scandal. This revelation led Felipe Massa to suspect there might be more to the story than initially thought.
Massa’s suspicions gained traction when an old interview with the late F1 race director Charlie Whiting resurfaced. In this interview, Whiting admitted he was informed about Renault’s plot to manipulate the Singapore GP during the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix, before the championship was decided.
While conventional wisdom dictates that FIA statutes prevent the overturning of world championships at this stage, Massa’s legal team begs to differ. The formal legal proceedings have commenced, and Massa’s representatives have issued a ‘Letter before Claim’ to the FIA and FOM. To shed light on the case, F1 Flow.com had an exclusive conversation with Bernardo Viana, representing Massa in Brazil, who explained why they firmly believe there’s a case to be made.
First and foremost, Viana emphasized that Massa’s objective isn’t financial compensation but to rewrite history and bring the championship trophy home. He stated, “The objective is to bring the trophy home. It’s not financial.”
To achieve this goal, Massa’s legal team is prepared to take various measures, including gathering information and obtaining statements. They aim to uncover everything that transpired in 2008 and 2009, believing there’s more information yet to be revealed.
The decision to pursue legal action was not taken lightly. Viana explained that a consortium of leading sports law experts from various jurisdictions was assembled to thoroughly analyze the case. The consensus among these experts was that there’s a strong case to be made.
Viana mentioned some of the key members of the legal team, including world-renowned sports law expert Nick de Marco. They have a diverse range of expertise, covering commercial and corporate litigation, among other areas.
Addressing the issue of FIA statutes, which set strict deadlines for challenging race results and championships, Viana hinted at a potential argument. He suggested that the lack of external control might be a central issue. Furthermore, he downplayed concerns about Ecclestone’s memory lapse and the unavailability of Whiting and Mosley for cross-examination, saying they are confident in the evidence they have.
Another significant aspect of Massa’s case is that the FIA investigation in 2009 did not alter the race result. Viana argued that the proper remedy should have been to cancel the race entirely or remove any influence of Renault’s actions on the outcome. He highlighted that even a partial cancellation, such as counting the race until Piquet’s crash, would have made Massa the champion based on the regulations at the time.
Regarding Ferrari’s involvement, Viana stated that while they welcome the team’s support, it’s not essential to their case. He pointed out that many within the paddock have expressed support privately. He emphasized that this case is not against Lewis Hamilton but against the actions of the previous leadership at FOM and FIA.
Currently, Massa’s legal team is awaiting a response from the FIA and FOM, and discussions are ongoing to determine a realistic timeframe. Viana mentioned that if the response is adequate and constructive, they are open to further conversations. However, if it’s not, they are prepared to move forward with their legal strategy.
Viana concluded by emphasizing their commitment to uncovering the truth about what transpired in 2008 and 2009. He asserted that once the lawsuits are complete, no hidden conversations or negotiations will remain undisclosed. All parties involved will be held accountable, and the discovery phase of the lawsuits promises to be intriguing.
The FIA and FOM have refrained from commenting on the Massa case while legal proceedings are underway. The motorsport world eagerly awaits the outcome of this unprecedented legal battle, which could reshape F1’s history books.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about F1 championship challenge
What is the background of the 2008 F1 championship controversy?
In 2008, during the Singapore Grand Prix, a scandal known as “Crashgate” emerged, where Nelson Piquet Jr. deliberately crashed to benefit his Renault team. Recent remarks by Bernie Ecclestone have brought this controversy back into the spotlight.
Why is Felipe Massa challenging the 2008 championship outcome?
Felipe Massa suspects that the FIA and FOM had knowledge of the deliberate crash but chose not to act to avoid a scandal. He aims to overturn the championship outcome, not for financial gain but to rewrite history.
Who is representing Felipe Massa in this legal battle?
Massa has assembled a formidable legal team, including sports law expert Nick de Marco and lawyers with expertise in various areas, to analyze the case and build a strong argument.
What are the central issues in Massa’s legal action?
One key issue is whether the FIA statutes allow for a previous championship to be challenged. Another issue is the timing of the FIA investigation and whether it could have changed the race result.
Why hasn’t Ferrari joined Massa in this legal action?
Ferrari’s support is not essential to Massa’s case. While they welcome it, many within the paddock have expressed private support. This case is not against Lewis Hamilton but against the actions of the previous FOM and FIA leadership.
What comes next in this legal battle?
Massa’s legal team is waiting for a response from the FIA and FOM. Discussions are ongoing to determine a realistic timeframe for further actions. If the response is inadequate, they are prepared to move forward with their legal strategy.
What is the ultimate goal of this legal action?
Felipe Massa’s goal is to bring the championship trophy home by uncovering the truth about what transpired in 2008 and 2009. The discovery phase of the lawsuits promises to be intriguing as no stone will be left unturned.