Felipe Massa has formally begun legal action against Formula 1 and the FIA to seek compensation after controversial comments from Bernie Ecclestone earlier this year.
A report from Reuters claims the former Ferrari driver has sent a formal Letter Before Claim notice to Formula 1 and the FIA to provide notice of his intention to begin legal proceedings – with lawyers in place in Britain, the United States, France, Brazil and Switzerland.
Massa spoke earlier this year about looking into his options after former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said the Brazilian was “cheated out of the title” in 2008 due to the fallout of the infamous ‘Crashgate’ scandal in Singapore.
Felipe Massa to press ahead with claim for compensation after 2008 title loss
The Singapore Grand Prix saw Massa finish outside the points after leading the race, after Renault driver Nelson Piquet Junior was told to crash out of the race in order to benefit team-mate Fernando Alonso’s chances.
Massa was not helped by a botched pit stop by Ferrari that saw him drag his fuel hose down the pit lane with him, but the ramifications in the title race proved pivotal, as Lewis Hamilton famously took the World Championship with a last-lap overtake at the final round of the season at Interlagos.
But Ecclestone’s comments earlier this year have since sparked a response from the Brazilian.
“According to the statutes, we should have cancelled the race in Singapore under these conditions,” Ecclestone told F1-Insider in April.
“That means it would never have happened for the World Championship standings. Then Felipe Massa would have become World Champion and not Lewis Hamilton.
“I still feel sorry for Massa today. He won the final at his home race in Sao Paulo and did everything right.
“He was cheated out of the title he deserved while Hamilton had all the luck in the world and won his first championship. Today I would have arranged things differently.”
Those comments from the former F1 boss caught Massa’s attention, and made his intentions clear to take action after coming so close to a World Championship.
In a letter sent to Formula 1 and the FIA, seen by Reuters, Massa’s lawyers claim he lost “tens of millions of Euros” by not having World Champion status attached to his name, and there was a “conspiracy” within the organisation that prevented him from taking the 2008 title.
“Simply put, Mr Massa is the rightful 2008 Driver’s Champion, and F1 and FIA deliberately ignored the misconduct that cheated him out of that title,” Reuters quote the letter as having said.
“Mr Massa is unable to fully quantify his losses at this stage but estimates that they are likely to exceed tens of millions of Euros.
“This amount does not cover the serious moral and reputational losses suffered by Mr Massa.”
And having seen Ecclestone’s comments, Massa’s lawyers added that: “Mr Massa was the victim of a conspiracy committed by individuals at the highest level of F1 together with the FIA and Formula One Management.”
And if he does not receive a satisfactory response to these claims, the former Ferrari driver intended to “pursue legal action in order to seek compensation for the harm he has suffered as well as recognition that, but for those unlawful acts, he would have been awarded the 2008 Championship.”
F1 declined to comment when approached by PlanetF1.com.
The FIA and representatives from Enyo Law, the London-based firm said to be representing Massa in this case, have also been approached for comment.