Felipe Massa Files $80 Million Lawsuit Over Loss of 2008 F1 Championship

Jackson Wheeler
5 Min Read


Felipe Massa has filed a lawsuit in London against Formula 1, governing body the FIA, and former F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, over his 2008 title loss.

Massa finished runner-up to Lewis Hamilton in the 2008 championship after a season-long battle was only decided by just one point on the final lap of the campaign.

But Massa’s grievances relate not to the final race of the season, but to the outcome of the Singapore Grand Prix, in which Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jr. was ordered to deliberately crash, with the accident helping the strategy of teammate Fernando Alonso.

Massa had been leading at the time of Piquet’s accident but a botched pit stop in the resultant safety car period dropped him down the order and an off further in the race left him without a point.

Hamilton finished third in that race, gaining six points.

The incident now known as “Crashgate” only came to light in public almost a year later, after Piquet Jr. had been sacked by Renault.

Ecclestone—then Formula 1’s boss—gave an interview to a German outlet in 2023 in which he claimed that he and then FIA president Max Mosley were aware of the Crashgate allegations before the end of the 2008 season. Ecclestone, 92, has since said he does not recall giving the interview.

Massa and his legal team reached out to Formula 1 and the FIA in the aftermath of Ecclestone’s interview, insisting he was the rightful 2008 champion, and threatened legal action.

Speaking to Autoweek, at last year’s São Paulo Grand Prix, Massa said “my hope is to fight for the justice of the sport, and I’m here for that. I will fight for the victory and I really believe that’s the correct thing to do, and we’ll fight until the end.”

On Monday Vieira Rezende Advogados, one of the firms representing Massa, confirmed that a lawsuit has now been filed at London’s High Court against the three parties.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Massa is seeking in excess of $80 million in damages.

‘Mr. Massa is seeking declarations that the FIA breached its regulations by failing to promptly investigate Nelson Piquet Junior’s crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, and that had it acted properly, Mr. Massa would have won the Drivers’ Championship that year,’ read a statement.

‘Mr. Massa also seeks damages for the significant financial loss he has suffered due to the FIA’s failure, in which Mr. Ecclestone and FOM were also complicit.

‘As Mr. Ecclestone has admitted, there was “enough information in time to investigate the matter” in 2008 and “cancel the race in Singapore. Mr. Ecclestone further affirmed that, had the results of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix been canceled, “Felipe Massa would have become world champion” and that Mr. Massa “was cheated out of the title he deserved.

‘Attempts to find an amicable resolution have been unsuccessful, leaving Mr. Massa with no choice but to initiate legal proceedings. Recent events naturally demonstrate that issues of transparency and integrity in Formula One remain relevant, and it is clear that serious work is needed to restore its credibility and long-term future.’

Lettermark

U.K.-based Phillip Horton started covering Grands Prix while still at university and swiftly deemed that writing about Formula 1 and the behind-the-scenes machinations was much more engaging than reading centuries-old novels. Degree gained, he went on to cover the sport full-time from 2014 and is as intrigued and excited by the destinations Formula 1 visits during its lengthy annual world tour as the racing itself. Phillip joined Autoweek in 2021 and while he has just about learned to spell in American English he has yet to find anywhere in America that makes a proper cup of tea.

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at Speedofdaily.com, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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