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Felipe Massa

Massa exclusive: I want to clear up big misconception about 2008 title legal action

15 years to the day since he lost the 2008 World Championship to Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa sat down with RacingNews365 to discuss the ongoing legal action that he believes will crown him the champion.

Felipe Massa
To news overview © XPBimages

Felipe Massa is clear in the outcome he wants to achieve from his legal action over the 2008 World Championship.

He is not interested in money or a payoff, but wants the results amended to formally declare himself the 2008 World Champion, 15 years after the famous finish, on this very day November 2nd, at his home Interlagos track.

Massa's action has been spurred on by comments made by former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, claiming he, along with then-race director Charlie Whiting and then-FIA President Max Mosley knew during the 2008 season of Renault's race-fixing in Singapore and opted to keep it quiet to protect the brand of F1.

The next major deadline in the case will be November 15th when a final deadline for the FIA and Formula One Management (FOM) will be reached to hand over documents to Massa's legal team.

To paraphrase former US Senator Howard Baker in the impeachment trial against President Richard Nixon over Watergate in 1974, Massa's team are seeking to find out "What did Ecclestone, Whiting and Mosley know and when did they know it."

The Brazilian is now competing in the national stock car championship having left F1 at the end of 2017, having taken a step back from his ambassadorial role in the paddock, but is keen to clear one up big misconception when RacingNews365 catches up with him.

Massa: My case was manipulated

"It is the most important thing that people need to understand, that before you say: 'Oh if Felipe wins the case, every championship that has some grey areas will change," Massa exclusively told RacingNews365 when asked if his cases could set a precedent for the controversial 1994 and 2021 title deciders.

"The only difference between all these championships and what happened was maybe a mistake [from officials], maybe crashes or maybe a result that was not corrected by the FIA on the sporting side because of a technical issue or whatever, these cases were related to that.

"My case is related to manipulation, related to sabotage and it is a completely different situation.

"It is a completely different situation and my case was investigated as the race in Singapore was manipulated.

"This was a year after, and unfortunately there was a rule saying that if it was not in the same year, the result of the championship cannot be changed.

"But then after 15 years, we hear that Bernie Ecclestone said he knew [about Renault's race-fixing plan in Singapore] in 2008, we hear that [former race director] Charlie Whiting knew in 2008 and they didn't do anything to not risk the brand of Formula 1.

"So my case is a manipulation case, it is not sporting, technical or anything else. You need to separate the difference between my case and all of the others.

"I think maybe sometimes people don't understand the difference between what happened in my case in 2008 compared to maybe the other cases [such as 1994 or 2021]."

			© Formula 1
	© Formula 1

Massa's first suspicions

What became known as 'Crash-gate' first became public in 2009 at the Belgian Grand Prix after Piquet Jr had been fired by the team, with then-FIA President Mosley arranging for senior team personnel to be interviewed in the Spa paddock.

But Massa says his first suspicions about the true nature of what had gone on came much earlier in the year.

"I started to think about it, because people started to talk and, you know, I started to hear some rumours that what happened in Singapore was maybe manipulated," he says.

"That was maybe March or April 2009, so I spoke with Nelson Piquet and I asked him, and the way he answered me, I was sure that he was not telling the truth.

"He said: 'No, I would never do that, are you crazy?', but I could feel he was not right, he was not serious and it was not correct what he was saying.

"Then we had we the race in Bahrain at the start of 2009, I was in Dubai, and next to my hotel Flavio Briatore was having lunch with Jean Alesi, and because I knew Jean, I sat there for a while with my manager Nicholas Todt, and I asked Flavio, and the way he answered me, I was sure he was lying.

"I knew that maybe things were not right, and I always tried to speak to the lawyers from Ferrari, I always tried to push them to say what happened is not right for us, it is not correct, but they always pushed back with the rules that the championship could not be changed.

"So I trusted them because I am not legal[ly minded], but after Bernie said what he said, we put the legal team to work on the case, and to be honest, all of the team is very motivated with the case and we definitely believe we can fight to change the result."

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