Felipe Massa, who serves as an F1 ambassador alongside other past racers like Mika Hakkinen, Jacques Villeneuve, and David Coulthard, has decided not to attend the upcoming Italian Grand Prix in Monza. In this role, he typically makes appearances at specific races each season, donning F1-branded attire and participating in fan meet and greets in the exclusive Paddock Club.
The situation took a complex turn after Massa initiated legal action against both the FIA and Formula 1. This is all connected to the dramatic 2008 season, especially focusing on the Singapore Grand Prix and the scandalous “Crashgate” incident, which Massa claims significantly affected the championship outcome.
Originally slated to appear at Monza, a track where the former Ferrari driver enjoys significant local support, Massa was to have his trip and accommodations covered by Formula 1. Yet, inside sources confirm that a mutual decision was reached that Massa’s appearance at the event would be inappropriate due to the pending lawsuit. It was, however, emphasized that Massa could still attend future races, but only as a private spectator.
It appears that Massa himself acknowledged that his attendance would undoubtedly spark media buzz, making it difficult for him to navigate the paddock without drawing attention to his legal fight.
In 2008, Massa narrowly lost the championship to Lewis Hamilton during the last lap of the Brazilian Grand Prix, his home race. A crucial aspect of this loss was his early retirement at the Singapore Grand Prix, where he dragged the fuel hose out of the Ferrari pit stop area during a safety car period triggered by Nelson Piquet Jr.’s crash.
Earlier this year, Bernie Ecclestone, the former head of F1, hinted that the FIA and F1 insiders knew about the Piquet crash scandal even before the 2008 season wrapped up. An old interview with Charlie Whiting, the late FIA race director, seemed to corroborate this timeline.
Last month, Massa’s legal team sent a formal Letter Before Claim to FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem and FOM CEO Stefano Domenicali. They claim that Massa was a “victim of a conspiracy,” alleging that the Singapore incident led to millions in lost income for him, along with considerable “moral” and “reputational” damage.
In other news:
- Massa’s Lawyers Threaten Legal Action in UK High Court Due to FIA/FOM Delays
- Massa’s 2008 F1 Title Lawsuit Focuses on ‘Justice, Not Financial Gain’
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Felipe Massa Italian Grand Prix Withdrawal
Why is Felipe Massa withdrawing from the Italian Grand Prix?
Felipe Massa has decided not to attend the Italian Grand Prix in his role as an F1 ambassador due to ongoing legal action he has taken against the FIA and Formula 1. Both parties mutually agreed that his presence would be inappropriate given the circumstances.
What is Massa’s legal action about?
Massa’s legal action centers on the 2008 F1 Championship season, specifically the Singapore Grand Prix ‘Crashgate’ incident. He claims that this incident had a crucial impact on the outcome of the championship, which he narrowly lost to Lewis Hamilton.
Who else serves as F1 ambassadors?
Besides Felipe Massa, other former drivers like Mika Hakkinen, Jacques Villeneuve, and David Coulthard serve as F1 ambassadors. They attend specific races, wear F1-branded attire, and engage in fan meet-and-greets.
Can Massa still attend other F1 races?
Yes, it has been made clear that Felipe Massa can still attend any other F1 races, but he would be doing so as a private individual rather than as an F1 ambassador.
What was the ‘Crashgate’ incident?
The ‘Crashgate’ incident refers to the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix where Nelson Piquet Jr. crashed, triggering a safety car period. During this period, Massa retired early after dragging a fuel hose from the Ferrari pit stop area, affecting his points and, ultimately, the championship outcome.
What do Massa’s lawyers claim?
Massa’s legal team alleges that he was a “victim of a conspiracy,” having lost millions in income and suffering both “moral” and “reputational” damage due to the events at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.
Have any former F1 authorities commented on the situation?
Yes, former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has hinted that insiders within the FIA and Formula 1 knew about the ‘Crashgate’ incident even before the end of the 2008 season. An archive interview with the late FIA race director Charlie Whiting also supports this claim.