Ferrari ‘trying to push’ FIA for quicker verdicts as ‘quite tricky’ Massa legal case lodged

Michelle Foster
Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton at the pre-race photo call for the 2008 finale in Brazil.

Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton.

Fred Vasseur says Ferrari are “trying to push” the FIA for clarity over quicker verdicts, but the team boss admits personally he isn’t a fan of changing the results 15 minutes after the race, never mind 15 years later.

Last week Massa began legal action against Formula 1 and the FIA with the Brazilian sending a formal Letter Before Claim notice seeking compensation having lost the 2008 World title to Lewis Hamilton after ‘Crashgate’ played a pivotal role in the result.

That Sunday at the Singapore Grand Prix, Renault ordered Nelson Piquet Jr to deliberately crash to benefit his teammate Fernando Alonso.

Fred Vasseur: The circumstances were completely exceptional

Additional reporting Sam Cooper

In the pit stops that followed, Massa went from leading the race to leaving the pit lane with his fuel hose still attached to his Ferrari. He finished outside of the points while Hamilton was third.

The Briton, racing for McLaren, would go on to win the title by a single point.

Former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone reportedly admitted back in April to F1-Insider that he and the FIA were aware of Renault’s cheating that year already with Ecclestone going on to say they should’ve “cancelled the race in Singapore under these conditions… then Felipe Massa would have become world champion and not Lewis Hamilton.”

He added: “We decided not to do anything. We wanted to protect the sport and save it from a huge scandal.”

Ecclestone has since denied giving that interview but that hasn’t stopped Massa from proceeding with legal action with his lawyers claiming 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 legal letter as having said.

One person interested in seeing how the proceedings play out is Ferrari’s new team boss, Vasseur.

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Speaking to the media, including PlanetF1.com, ahead of this weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix, Vasseur said: “As you can imagine, I don’t want to make any comment on this matter.

“I have a good relationship with all the stakeholders, and it’s quite tricky.

“The circumstances were completely exceptional.

“But more generally, and not about Felipe, I think we (Ferrari) are also trying to push the FIA to know the result of the event at the chequered flag.

“I don’t want to make any comments but for sure it will be strange.”

The Frenchman, though, admits he’s not in favour of results changing even 15 minutes after a grand prix, never mind 15 years later.

“I’m not a big fan to change the result of a race 15 minutes after the chequered flag,” he added.

Formula 1 and the FIA have until August 29 to respond to Massa’s letter.

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