Massa Starts Legal Action Against FIA, Formula 1, and Bernie Ecclestone

Ex-Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa is pursuing legal action, claiming over $80 million in damages tied to the 2008 "Crashgate" incident.

Lee Parker

By Lee Parker
Published on March 12, 2024

Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix
Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton – 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix

Felipe Massa has filed a lawsuit in London against the FIA, Formula One Management, and Bernie Ecclestone centred on the controversy of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

Demanding up to $82 million for lost prize money and consequent financial opportunities had he secured the F1 championship, Massa’s legal move was lodged with the London High Court on Monday, as confirmed by his legal representatives.

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While Formula One Management and the FIA have yet to make public comments following inquiries by Sky Sports News, Massa has steadfastly maintained he was unjustly denied the 2008 world championship. This stance stems from the notorious “Crashgate” episode, where Nelson Piquet Jr.’s intentional crash ostensibly aided Renault teammate Fernando Alonso’s victory, impacting Massa’s race strategy and, ultimately, his championship bid.

The Safety Car deployed due to Piquet’s crash and a consequential mishap during a pit stop relegated Massa from the race leader to finishing 13th. This sequence of events critically affected the championship’s outcome, with Massa narrowly losing the title by a single point to Lewis Hamilton, following a dramatic last-lap overtake in Brazil.

The legal team from Vieira Rezende articulated in their statement the had the FIA intervened appropriately, Massa would have clinched the Drivers’ Championship that year.

“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,” a statement read.

“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 cancelled, ‘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.

“Although the FIA investigation in 2009 concluded that it had ‘never before considered charges as serious’, even after the revelations brought forward last year, the results of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix still stand and remain officially sanctioned by the FIA.”

Last year, the former Formula 1 CEO, Bernie Ecclestone, disclosed that he, alongside the then-president of the FIA, Max Mosley, had prior knowledge of a possible rule infraction during the 2008 season but opted to take no immediate action.

Ecclestone further mentioned his decision to delay any investigation into the incident until after the season had concluded, by which time it was impossible to alter the championship results.

This admission has prompted Felipe Massa to explore legal options to contest the outcome of that season.

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About The Author

Senior Editor

Lee Parker
Lee Parker

Lee is our staff writer specialising in anything technical within Formula 1 from aerodynamics to engines. Lee writes most of our F1 guides for beginners and experienced fans having followed the sports since 1991, researching and understanding how teams build the ultimate machines. Like everyone else on the team he listens to podcasts about F1 and enjoys reading biographies of former drivers.

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