Felipe Massa has suggested that former Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso knew all about Renault’s setup for ‘Crashgate’ at the 2008 Singapore GP.
The circumstances of the controversial 2008 Singapore Grand Prix have been brought back into the limelight recently, with Felipe Massa launching legal action challenging the outcome of the 2008 F1 title.
Massa lost that year’s title, partly due to the points lost in a dodgy pitstop during the Singapore GP, with the results of that race being permitted to stand despite the Renault team being found to have manipulated the result through a deliberate crash.
What were the circumstances of ‘Crashgate’ at the 2008 Singapore GP?
Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jnr. deliberately crashed his car midway through the inaugural race at Marina Bay, having felt under pressure to do so as the Brazilian driver attempted to keep his career alive.
The crash brought out the Safety Car, which helped Fernando Alonso through into the lead due to perfect pitstop timing, with the Spaniard going on to win. Massa, who pitted, lost out as a result of driving off with his fuel hose still attached.
Massa would go on to lose out in the World Championship battle to Lewis Hamilton, who claimed his maiden title, but the alleged admission from former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone that FOM and the FIA had knowledge of Renault’s actions before the end of the season has re-ignited the whole situation.
While Alonso was always assumed to have been completely innocent and ignorant of the decision-making of Renault’s management involving Piquet Jnr., Massa believes Alonso did have full knowledge of what was planned.
“I spoke to Alonso on a few occasions, when we were team-mates [at Ferrari],” Massa told the Brazilian subsidiary of Motorsport.com.
“Logically, Fernando always insinuated that it wasn’t his fault, but he always changed the subject. I never had a clear conversation, when a person accepts and talks is when that person is clear about things. When the person doesn’t want to talk in the right way, we know that maybe he knew everything. I’m sure he knew it.”
While Massa is a compatriot of Piquet Jnr., he admitted their relationship is not strong enough to allow for a frank discussion.
“Well, with Nelson Piquet Jr., I spoke after what happened in 2009, and obviously we don’t have a great relationship,” he said.
“So anyway, everything he tried to do when he uncovered it is clear, everybody knew about it. He crashed on purpose in a race that was manipulated for his teammate to win, so I’m not going to talk to him. Everything he did was clear. I tried to talk to his father [three-time F1 World Champion Nelson Piquet], but his father didn’t want to talk to me.”
Felipe Massa: I’m doing this for justice in F1
With Massa escalating the situation, he is assembling a large legal team in a bid to challenge the outcome of the 2008 title – also aiming to recoup lost earnings that would have been his had he been crowned Champion.
“I’m doing it for the sport, I’m doing it to show that manipulation is not part of our sport,” he said.
“And what happened in that race in Singapore 2008 is quite clear, so it should be suspended, and they didn’t do it. So in the end nobody was punished.
“I do it for justice for the sport. So anyone who tries to write that it’s about money is completely wrong. In fact, for example, I am now spending a lot of money on the case.
“I think when we fight for justice, for the sport, for something that happens in a situation that is unacceptable for the sport, for the children, for the example of the sport, for the integrity of the sport… when you do that, exactly to show and that justice is done, they are certainly very optimistic and as I said before, it’s important that everybody knows exactly what happened, it’s important that everybody understands 100% what happened in that race.
“And it’s important that people understand that the result of the Drivers’ Championship that year was manipulated because of that race.”