Lewis Hamilton warning as Felipe Massa’s legal team ‘want to bring trophy home’

Thomas Maher
2008 F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton with runner-up Felipe Massa pictured on the podium at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

2008 F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton with runner-up Felipe Massa pictured on the podium at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Felipe Massa’s legal challenge of the 2008 F1 Drivers’ Championship result has been addressed by his legal team.

The Brazilian driver, who finished as runner-up to Lewis Hamilton in 2008 in a dramatic title finale at Interlagos, has opted to take the legal route in order to try having the result overturned.

Earlier this year, former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone revealed that F1 and the FIA had knowledge that Renault had manipulated the race result at the 2008 Singapore GP prior to the end of the season – the race at which a pitstop error made by Ferrari cost Massa big in the championship standings.

Why Felipe Massa believes he has a case for the title

With Ecclestone’s admission resetting the timeline of events to a much earlier point of knowledge than what had been the accepted outcome from 15 years ago, Massa sought legal advice on whether or not to begin legal proceedings.

As outlined previously, in letters sent from his legal team to both F1 and the FIA – letters which have been seen by PlanetF1.com – Massa has sought acknowledgment of the situation from both of F1’s controlling entities.

Massa’s legal team had set the date of September 8th to begin legal proceedings through the UK High Court, and PlanetF1.com understands that that process has now begun.

Addressing the situation to Motorsport.com, a representative from the law firm representing Massa has explained why the Brazilian has taken action and why they believe he has a valid case to challenge the 2008 title in the court system.

Up until now, it had been thought that Massa was seeking financial compensation for the difference in earning potential he would have had as an F1 World Champion, but Bernardo Viana has explained that the case is actually fully focused on securing the title – an outcome that would be harsh on Lewis Hamilton as the British driver would slip back to six titles to his name.

“The objective is to bring the trophy home,” Viana said. “It’s not financial.

“To get there, several measures will be taken with different aims, some to obtain information and others to obtain statements.

“We want everything that happened in 2008/2009 to come to light.

“We are quite confident in the evidence we have, without prejudice to the additional ones we are looking for, and without prejudice to everything that will come to light. We understand that there is even more information that has not been made public.”

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Felipe Massa’s legal team is assembled to challenge for 2008 title

Viana revealed a large panel of experts has been put together in order to address the proceedings, having initially done the legwork to evaluate whether or not Massa’s case was strong enough to proceed with.

“We assembled a stellar legal team across many areas and many jurisdictions to analyse things,” he said.

“We wanted to reach the conclusion if there was no claim or there was a claim. And we believe we have a strong case.

“There are many, many lawyers involved. And they are the best. If you see the team, you will know that this is not a legal adventure or something that is completely random, or baseless.

“The fact that we’re moving forward shows a lot. None of those would recommend going forward without being confident that we have a strong case.”

Without going into too many details about the approach that’s planned for the High Court proceedings, Viana explained that the results of the contentious Singapore race will be a key area of focus.

“We understand that the proper remedy would be the cancellation of the race, as Bernie admitted, and that he, Mosley, and Whiting always understood was the case,” he said.

“It was the proper way to approach the regulations. And even if they wanted to partially cancel the race, let’s say count the race until lap 14 [when Piquet crashed], Felipe would have been a champion as well, based on the regulations of the time.

“He would receive 50% of the points. Felipe was robbed of 10 points that day, and he lost the championship by one. So the math is very clear.”

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