Bernie Ecclestone says Felipe Massa’s litigation against F1 and the FIA to try and overturn the outcome of the 2008 world championship, fifteen years after its closure, is “only about money”.
Massa has put together a team of lawyers and initiated legal action against FOM and the sport’s governing body, contending that he was “the victim of a conspiracy” committed by individuals at the highest level of F1 together with the FIA.
London-based Enyo Law, representing the Brazilian driver, asserts that Massa suffered substantial financial losses amounting to tens of millions of euros due to forgone earnings and bonuses as a result of the deliberate crash orchestrated by the Renault team in the 2008 Singapore GP and which spiraled into a scandal in 2009.
At the time, an investigation by the FIA into Nelson Piquet Jr’s crash revealed the orchestrated nature of the crash, and in 2009 the governing body deemed that team boss Flavio Briatore and Renault director of engineering Pat Symonds, along with Piquet JR. had conspired to cause the crash and subsequent safety car neutralization.
The incident played a crucial role in reshuffling the race order and handing an advantage to Renault’s Fernando Alonso who went on to win the race.
Massa lost the title fight by a single point at the last round in Brazil to McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton. Had the manipulated race in Singapore been scrapped from the season’s results, Massa – and not Hamilton – would have won the title.
Fifteen years on, Massa’s sudden litigation over the controversial outcome of the 2008 title fight was triggered by comments made earlier this year by former Ecclestone on what went on behind the scenes after that year’s infamous event at Marina Bay.
In an interview published last April on German website F1-Insider, Ecclestone said that he and then FIA president Max Mosley had been made fully aware at the time of what had happened in Singapore but the pair chose to turn a blind eye to the incident in a bid to “protect the sport” and to delay an official investigation until the following year, when it would no longer be possible to overturn the championship’s results.
Ecclestone has since denied the comments made to F1-Insider, insisting he does not remember the interview.
In an article published on Tuesday by Switzerland’s Blick, Ecclestone provided his thoughts on Massa’s legal wranglings.
“The Massa clan only cares about money,” said the former F1 supremo. “But the chances of that happening are zero.
“Hamilton and Mercedes could have filed a lawsuit against the FIA after the not very clean 2021 finale in Abu Dhabi.”
Massa has repeatedly denied since last August that his legal challenge is about money, the Brazilian claiming that he only wants justice for the sport and for himself.
This week, the 42-year-old former F1 driver’s legal team stepped up its efforts to hold F1 and the FIA accountable for their actions in 2008 by sending preservation orders to all parties involved in the incident, ordering them to safeguard all documents pertinent to the case.
Recipients include Ferrari, Renault, former Renault sponsor ING, former team boss Briatore, Symonds and the sporting director Steve Nielsen.
Massa’s legal representatives also hope to convince Lewis Hamilton to support his former rival’s case.
“He is an important ambassador for the sport and has always defended sporting integrity,” said Bernardo Viana – from the Sao Paulo Vieira Rezende Advogados law firm that represents Massa in Brazil.
“He is an honorary Brazilian citizen and very well-liked by Brazilians, so I hope he will support us. We have absolutely nothing against Hamilton.”
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