Felipe Massa takes legal action over Lewis Hamilton title ‘conspiracy’

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Felipe Massa’s lawyers have started legal proceedings against Formula One and the sport’s governing body the FIA over the contentious 2008 world championship, the first of Lewis Hamilton’s career. The Brazilian has alleged that he has been the victim of a “conspiracy” after former chief Bernie Ecclestone admitted that Massa was robbed of a win in Singapore which could have led him to defeat the Brit that year.

Reuters say Massa’s lawyers have sent an eight-page letter to F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali and FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem on August 15, seeking substantial damages that denied him the world title.

The 2008 Singapore Grand Prix was infamously remembered for Nelson Piquet Jr’s deliberate crash which helped his Renault team-mate Fernando Alonso claim victory. The resulting safety car that was deployed saw Ferrari mess up Massa’s pit stop. Hamilton was able to take advantage and gain points that would prove crucial at the end of the season and he claimed his first championship by a single point.

Massa’s lawyers insist that the retired star had been “the victim of a conspiracy committed by individuals at the highest level of F1 together with the FIA and Formula One Management”.

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He is seeking tens of millions of euros in compensation after Ecclestone lifted the lid on what has been described as a cover-up, claiming to F1 Insider that Massa was “cheated out of the title he deserved, while Hamilton had all the luck in the world and won his first championship”.

The F1 supremo, who was replaced in 2017, claimed that ex-FIA president Max Mosley was aware in 2008 that Piquet’s crash was deliberate but he did not act as Hamilton went on to secure the first of his seven world championships. Massa was as a result denied what would have been the only title of his career.

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The letter from Massa’s lawyers read: “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.

“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.”

An FIA spokesperson said the governing body acknowledged the “correspondence” from Massa’s legal team and added: “The matter is under review and we will not be providing comment at this stage.”

Massa confirmed his intentions to seek legal advice on the matter in April, though despite seeking compensation it is unlikely that he will be able to get the result of the Singapore Grand Prix and the 2008 standings altered.

The FIA’s International Sporting Code ensured that any right to request a review expires 14 calendar days after a competition – and four days prior to the date of that year’s FIA prize-giving ceremony.

Massa may have looked to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), but it has no jurisdiction over the FIA on issues such as this and can only interfere in regards to the governing body’s Anti-Doping Disciplinary Committee.

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