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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Law

Felipe Massa Files Lawsuit Over 2008 F1 Title Loss

  • Due to Crashgate at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, the driver lost the season-long championship.
  • The Brazilian’s lawsuit is seeking $82 million in damages from the ripple effect of the deliberate crash.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

A 16-year-old title is heading to court. 

Former F1 driver Felipe Massa has filed a lawsuit in London against FIA (the auto racing governing body), series owner Formula One Management, and its former chief executive Bernie Ecclestone in an effort to claim the 2008 season-long title. 

Massa is seeking a minimum of $82 million in damages due to lost prize money and other deals he would have landed had he won the title, according to the Associated Press. In the last year, Massa has claimed he was the “rightful” 2008 champion due to an incident known as Crashgate, which caused him to finish in second place to Lewis Hamilton, by a single point. Massa’s case will be heard in the King’s Bench Division of the High Court.

“I always said I was going to fight until the end,” Massa said in a statement, per the AP. “Since the FIA and FOM decided not to do anything, we will seek to right this historical injustice in court. The matter is now for our lawyers and they are fully authorized to do whatever is necessary so justice in sport is served.”

Massa’s allegations stem from the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, where Nelson Piquet Jr. deliberately crashed to help then Renault teammate Fernando Alonso win. At the time of the crash, Massa was in the lead but lost it due to a safety car, allowing Alonso to capitalize as the only driver who didn’t need to refuel. Hamilton finished third in the race while Massa came in 13th. 

Renault was eventually punished for its actions, but the race was late in the F1 season and altered the standings enough to cost Massa his shot at the title. In 2023, Ecclestone said he later learned the crash was intentional but chose not to investigate it until after the season ended, when the standings were final. 

In his lawsuit, Massa said he wants “a declaration that the FIA acted in breach of its own regulations in failing to investigate the circumstances of the crash promptly in 2008,” as well as “a declaration that if the FIA had not acted in breach of its own regulations, it would have canceled or adjusted the results of the Singapore Grand Prix with the consequence that Mr. Massa would have won the drivers’ championship in 2008.”

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