Felipe Massa has revealed that he is in the process of assessing his legal options after new information emerged regarding the 2008 Singapore GP scandal, which he blames for his Formula 1 championship defeat.
The 11-time Grand Prix winner is assessing fresh legal advice after new information about the controversial Singapore race came to light from former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, reports Motorsport.com.
The Brazilian finished runner-up in the 2008 Formula 1 season, losing out to Lewis Hamilton in dramatic circumstances at the season finale in Brazil.
Partway through the 2009 season, it emerged that the 2008 Singapore GP had been fixed by the Renault team, with a deliberate crash for Nelson Piquet Jr triggering a Safety Car, which resulted in teammate Fernando Alonso taking the victory.
During this Safety Car period, then-Ferrari driver Massa pitted from the race lead, but a stuck fuel hose (back when refuelling was permitted in F1) delayed his stop, sending him to the back of the field. Championship rival Hamilton finished on the podium.
After the Singapore GP race-fixing scandal - dubbed 'Crashgate' - came to light in 2009, Massa blamed the incident for his championship defeat, and wanted the race results to be cancelled. However, this wasn't possible under FIA statutes.
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Ecclestone's interview comments
The incident had been consigned to the history books, until fresh comments from former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone emerged.
In an interview with F1-Insider, Ecclestone admitted that he and then-FIA President Max Mosley were "informed during the 2008 season about what had happened in the race in Singapore," and that they decided against any action to "protect the sport and protect it from a huge scandal."
"At that time there was the rule that a World Championship classification after the FIA award ceremony at the end of the year is untouchable. So Hamilton was presented with the championship trophy and everything was fine.
"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 deserved title, while Hamilton had all the luck in the world and won his first championship.
“Today I would have arranged it differently."
Massa reacts to fresh information
Having noted the new comments from Ecclestone, Massa stated his intention to "study" the laws and reinvestigation the situation.
Speaking to Motorsport.com during a recent Stock Car Pro Series weekend, Massa said: “There is a rule that says that when a championship is decided, from the moment the driver receives the champion's trophy, things can no longer be changed, even if it has been proven a theft.
“At the time, Ferrari's lawyers told me about this rule. We went to other lawyers and the answer was that nothing could be done. So I logically believed in this situation.”
“But after 15 years, we hear that the [former] owner of the category says that he found out in 2008, together with the president of the FIA, and they did nothing [so as] to not tarnish the name of F1.
“This is very sad, to know the result of this race was supposed to be cancelled and I would have a title. In the end, I was the one who lost the most with this result. So, we are going after it to understand all this.”
Massa added that he intended to achieve "justice", and likened the scenario of changing results years after an event to the Tour de France doping scandal surrounding Lance Armstrong.
“I intend to study the situation; study what the laws say, and the rules. We have to have an idea of what it is possible to do.
“I think if you've been punished for something that wasn't your fault, and it's the product of a robbery, a stolen race, justice has to be served.
“In fact, the right situation is to cancel the result of that race. It is the only justice that can be done in a case like this.”
“We have already seen other situations happening in sports, such as Lance Armstrong (cyclist), who was proven to have doped, and he lost all the titles. What is the difference?”
Balve Baines is joined by RacingNews365.com Editorial Director Dieter Rencken and Asia Correspondent Michael Butterworth to dissect the key talking points from the Australian Grand Prix.