This weekend is the Brazilian Grand Prix and the expectation from many in the motoring world is that the fans in Sao Paolo will let F1 and the FIA know how they feel about Felipe Massa’s championship being stolen from him in 2008.
Massa kicked off a legal battle in the UK High Court, challenging the outcome of the 2008 F1 Drivers’ Championship in which the Brazilian driver finished as runner-up to Lewis Hamilton. Now being dragged into the case are Renault, their former title sponsor ING, former team principal Flavio Briatore, former engineering director Pat Symonds, and former sporting director Steve Nielsen.
Many fans around the world would like to know what Formula 1’s new leaders position is on the injustice faced by Felipe Massa. The Brazilian driver, who has not been in the F1 paddock since he announced the commencement of his legal challenge, told reporters that he feels he has support, but labelled it a very complicated situation.
Massa hopes to have the full support of Scuderia Ferrari on his side, as the championship was stolen from Ferrari as a team, as well as Massa individually. Yet he completely understands that some do not want to make their opinions public. But it doesn’t change anything in Massa’a fight for justice.
“I’m doing this for my country, I’m doing this for my fans, I’m doing this for myself, I’m doing this for my family, I’m doing this for Ferrari, I’m doing this for the fans, the most incredible F1 fans, who are the Ferrari fans.”
Felipe Massa, to PlanetF1
Nelson Piquet Jr. was asked by the Renault team to drive into the wall at a certain point in order to trigger a Safety Car phase and such to help his teammate Fernando Alonso take victory at Singapore 2008. Piquet Jr. was worried about his contract extension, was under a lot of pressure, and agreed. Looking back retrospectively, Piquet’s actions cost his fellow Brazilian the World Championship. Massa was leading the race in Singapore, and had it stolen from him through race fixing.
In a March 2023 interview, former Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone admitted that he and FIA president Max Mosley were aware of Renault’s manipulation during the 2008 season (and suppressed the evidence to avoid a scandal) effectively re-setting the timeline about when the FIA and F1 knew about the race fixing and should have taken action to protect the integrity of Formula 1.
93-year-old Ecclestone has since retracted his statement (and claims he doesn’t remember giving the interview) but keep in mind that this is the same man who this week pleaded guilty to tax evasion charges in the UK. He received two years in jail (suspended sentence) but also have to pay a £652 million penalty after he admitted to failing to declare £400 million in assets to the UK tax authority. Perhaps Bernie isn’t a very honest man.