Bernie Ecclestone Responds to Massa’s Legal Action Against Him

Bernie Ecclestone says he would have supported Felipe Massa's legal action over the 2008 F1 Championship had he consulted him first.


By Ben Bush
Published on March 12, 2024

Bernie Ecclestone Former Head of F1
Bernie Ecclestone Former Head of F1

Revelations emerged last year about the 2008 Formula 1 World Championship when Bernie Ecclestone, the former head of F1, disclosed that he and then-president of the FIA, Max Mosley, were aware of the details surrounding the ‘Crashgate’ scandal at the Singapore Grand Prix.

During the race, Renault‘s Nelson Piquet Jr was instructed to crash intentionally, aiding teammate Fernando Alonso. This incident led to a critical pit stop error for leading driver Felipe Massa, causing him to fall out of point contention while his championship competitor, Lewis Hamilton, secured third place.

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Hamilton narrowly clinched the championship by a single point over Massa, an outcome Ecclestone suggests could have been different. Had the F1 authorities excluded the Singapore Grand Prix from the championship due to the scandal, Massa might have been crowned the champion instead of Hamilton.

Ecclestone revealed last April that he was aware of the scandal well before it became public knowledge, noting that the race should have been annulled under the circumstances. “According to the statutes, we should have cancelled the race in Singapore under these conditions,” the Briton went on to say “That means it would never have happened for the World Championship standings. Then Felipe Massa would have become World Champion and not Lewis Hamilton.”

Following Massa’s threats to sue Ecclestone, Formula 1, and the FIA for their roles in the affair, Ecclestone seemed to retract his earlier statements in an interview with Reuters, claiming he did not recall giving the original interview.

Despite Ecclestone’s change in stance, Massa is proceeding with his lawsuit, asserting that he is the rightful 2008 World Champion because of the ‘Crashgate’ scandal. He officially filed his case in the High Court in the UK on Monday, seeking recognition as the world champion and a minimum of $82 million in damages.

“I always said I was going to fight until the end,” Massa said in the statement. “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.”

Ecclestone, even though he is a defendant in the lawsuit, believes the Brazilian’s decision to take legal action is justified.

“If he had asked me,” Ecclestone told Press Association. “I would have said it was the complete right thing to do, to sue, and to let an English judge decide what is right and wrong.

“I cannot say anything about the outcome and what will happen. From his point of view, it is better that an English judge comes up with a verdict. It will be of more help for him.”

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About The Author

Chief Editor

Ben Bush

Ben is our chief editor specialising in F1 from the 1990s to the modern era. Ben has been following Formula 1 since 1986 and is an avid researcher who loves understanding the technology that makes it one of the most exciting motorsport on the planet. He listens to podcasts about F1 on a daily basis, and enjoys reading books from the inspirational Adrian Newey to former F1 drivers.

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