In a bid to secure Felipe Massa’s rightful recognition as the 2008 Formula One world champion, his legal counsel is pinning their hopes on gaining the support of none other than Lewis Hamilton, all in the name of upholding the principles of sporting integrity.
Bernardo Viana, a prominent member of Massa’s legal team, recently disclosed that they have extended a deadline for Formula One (F1) and its governing body, the FIA, until mid-October.
This extension was granted following the delivery of a Letter Before Claim in August, which outlines Massa’s case for the championship title.
As they eagerly await a response, Massa’s legal team remains steadfast in their pursuit of justice, believing that the support of Lewis Hamilton, a key figure in F1 history, could be a game-changer in the quest to rectify what they consider a historic injustice.
“The ball is in their court, we’ve been waiting for their response,” Viana, a partner at law firm Vieira Rezende Advogados, told Reuters.
“They asked for more time, until mid-October, and in good faith we have agreed to that.”
Former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, now 42, initiated a legal action based on an alleged “conspiracy” that he believes cost him the 2008 Formula One world championship title. He has expressed his unwavering determination to continue the fight for the championship.
In the 2008 season, Britain’s seven-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton, clinched his first title by a mere single point.
This season became infamous when Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jr. disclosed in 2009 that he had been instructed by team officials to deliberately crash at the Singapore Grand Prix.
During that race in Singapore, Massa was leading when Piquet’s deliberate crash triggered a safety car, benefiting Massa’s teammate Fernando Alonso, who ultimately won.
Massa’s race was marred by a botched pit stop, causing him to fail to score points. Hamilton finished third in the race, earning six crucial championship points.
Massa now contends that the Singapore race should have been canceled due to the alleged knowledge of the sport’s leaders regarding the incident before the season’s conclusion, suggesting a cover-up in the highest ranks of Formula One.
His lawyers want Hamilton, who was racing for McLaren at the time, to support the case.
“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 said.
“We have absolutely nothing against Hamilton.”
Lewis Hamilton, currently driving for Mercedes, has stated that he is not fixated on events from 15 years ago, suggesting his reluctance to engage in the 2008 Formula One championship controversy.
Felipe Massa pursued legal action following statements by former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone in March. Ecclestone revealed that he and former FIA president Max Mosley were aware in 2008 of Nelson Piquet’s deliberate crash. Mosley passed away in 2021, and FIA race director Charlie Whiting, another key figure, passed away in 2019.
Despite these developments, Bernardo Viana, a member of Massa’s legal team, expressed confidence in their strong case and sufficient evidence to secure the championship for Massa. They are prepared to pursue the legal battle across various jurisdictions.
Massa’s legal advisors, including sports law barrister Nick de Marco, emphasized that the case raises critical legal issues and concerns about 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.