Felipe Massa’s lawyers want Lewis Hamilton’s ‘support’ in 2008 title court case

Henry Valantine
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, next to Felipe Massa, Ferrari. China, October 2008.

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, sits next to Felipe Massa, Ferrari, in a press conference. China, October 2008.

One of Felipe Massa’s legal team hopes Lewis Hamilton will “support” his bid to claim the 2008 World Championship in court, as he has “always defended sporting integrity.”

Bernardo Viana of the Sao Paulo Vieira Rezende Advogados law firm, representing Massa’s case in Brazil, recently said that the “stellar legal team” assembled by the former Ferrari driver is looking to “bring the trophy home”, and they hope Hamilton – who won the 2008 title – will lend his support.

Viana maintained Massa’s legal team “have absolutely nothing against Hamilton” in their pursuit of this case, which was brought about following reported comments from Bernie Ecclestone earlier this year in which he said the FIA and F1 had knowledge of the “Crashgate” scandal at Singapore that year that meant Massa was “cheated out of the title he deserved” – though Ecclestone claims to not remember giving the interview in question to F1-Insider in Germany.

Felipe Massa’s legal team ask for support from Lewis Hamilton

Upon seeing the publication of the interview, Massa assembled a team of lawyers to challenge the result of the World Championship, 15 years after its conclusion – with Ecclestone purportedly stating in this interview that: “According to the statutes, we should have cancelled the race in Singapore under these conditions”, after Nelson Piquet Junior was found to have deliberately crashed in order to benefit team-mate Fernando Alonso’s chances in the race.

The Safety Car came out, prompting race leader Massa to pit, though he and his Ferrari crew had a botched stop as he drove away with his fuel hose still attached, leaving the Brazilian without any points.

Should the race have been cancelled, former F1 boss Ecclestone added: “That means it would never have happened for the World Championship standings. Then Felipe Massa would have become World Champion and not Lewis Hamilton.”

In a letter sent to the FIA and FOM, seen by PlanetF1.com, Massa’s legal team had given the sport’s governing body a deadline of Friday 8 September to respond to their Letter Before Claim, before proceeding to take the case to the UK High Court.

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It is now understood an extension has been agreed, with Viana confirming that Massa’s legal team have “in good faith” agreed to a new mid-October deadline.

Alongside that, he hopes Hamilton will offer his backing to Massa in this case – even though the preferred outcome would mean the former McLaren driver being stripped of his first World Championship.

“He is an important ambassador for the sport and has always defended sporting integrity. He is an honorary Brazilian citizen and very well liked by Brazilians, so I hope he will support us,” Viana told Reuters.

“We have absolutely nothing against Hamilton.”

Sports law barrister Nick de Marco, also acting on Massa’s behalf, wrote to Reuters that the case “raises a number of very important and interesting legal issues as well as fundamental matters of sporting integrity.”

“I am sure it will be of great interest not only to all motorsports’ fans, but to anyone with an interest in the fairness of sports’ competitions,” he added.

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