Felipe Massa says “being defeated fraudulently is revolting” and that all of sport needs an answer to his legal challenge against the outcome of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix that influenced that year’s world championship.
The Brazilian is trying to get the result of Singapore annulled based on his claim that Renault’s “Crashgate” scandal was known to the FIA and Formula 1 prior to the end of that season. The details of Nelson Piquet Jr. being instructed to crash only came out a year later, but quotes attributed to Bernie Ecclestone earlier this year suggested there was prior knowledge.
Writing in The Players’ Tribune, Massa reflects on his relationship with Interlagos — where he won the final race of 2008 but missed out on the title to Lewis Hamilton by a single point — and explains why he is seeking to overturn the outcome of the championship.
“That almost in Interlagos would remain deep within me to this day, except that the frustration gave way to a brutal feeling of injustice,” Massa wrote. “You know what I’m talking about.
“The trick that actually — and not the result at Interlagos — took away that 2008 title from me. It was supposed to be a historic milestone in F1: the 800th grand prix in the category, the first in Singapore, and the first to be held at night, with artificial lighting. It ended up becoming a stain, a shame.
“I’ll try to summarize what happened.
“Renault’s team leader, Flavio Briatore, orchestrated a deliberate crash of Nelson Piquet Jr. to benefit their other driver, Fernando Alonso. With the fake accident, the yellow light came on, the safety car entered the track, and I, who had taken the pole and was leading the race at the time, went to the pits.
“I received the OK to return to the track before the refueling hose had been removed. I ended up losing a lot of positions and finished the race without scoring. We found it all very strange at the time. But we actually learned the truth about the manipulation a year later, and early this year, Bernie Ecclestone, who was the head of F1 in 2008, confessed in an interview that he knew everything and did nothing because he wanted to ‘protect the sport and save it from a huge scandal.’
“The only question I must ask, and that my lawyers are asking right now, is: If the Singapore GP was manipulated, shouldn’t it be annulled?
“Being defeated fraudulently is revolting. And sweeping the dirt under the rug is vile. The world of sport needs an answer and deserves reparation. For my part, I can say that I still live with a tremendous feeling of injustice.”
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has previously said he is watching Massa’s case “with curiosity” based on the precedent it could set for the outcome of other races, including Abu Dhabi in 2021.
Click here to read Massa’s full entry in The Players’ Tribune.