Felipe Massa isn't alone in thinking the 2008 Formula 1 season should have gone differently. The former Ferrari F1 driver took to the courts earlier this year, seeking compensation from Formula 1, as he feels he was cheated out of that season's driver's championship. A recent quote from former FIA President Jean Todt says that he agrees, at the very least, that the circumstances surrounding the 2008 Singapore F1 Grand Prix were messy and the season's end should be investigated further.
During the 2008 Singapore GP, Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jr. intentionally crashed into a wall to help his teammate Fernando Alonso. That crash caused Massa to finish 13th in the race, thus netting him zero points on the day. Since Massa later went on to lose the driver's championship to Lewis Hamilton by just one point, it's possible that Massa would have won the title had it not been for the altered results in Singapore. However, Piquet's cheating wasn't publicly known until after the season was over and the results were ratified on December 31, 2008. The title remained with Hamilton despite Massa's pleas to have the results of the Singapore GP erased.
What sparked Massa's legal action so many years later was a March 2023 interview with former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, who reportedly told F1 Insider there was enough evidence to investigate Piquet's intentional crash before the season was over. Max Mosley was the FIA president at the time, and he was replaced by Todt in 2009.
During a recent interview with L'Equipe, Todt agreed that Mosely and then-F1 race director Charlie Whiting knew. “According to Bernie Ecclestone, Max Mosley, my predecessor, and Charlie Whiting, [then-F1] race director, were in the know from the beginning,” Todt said. “When I was president of the FIA, I was not informed of this. Discovering that the federation knew the truth before this famous December 31 could indeed change things."
"Unfortunately, Charlie and Max have passed away. In hindsight, well, we should have asked for the race to be canceled," Todt continued. "The completely new fact, if it is true and verifiable, is that the regulator who made the championship official knew [about what happened]."
There's no guarantee that new evidence would convince the FIA to strike the Singapore GP's results from the 2008 season, giving Massa the driver's title, as that would also strip F1 star and seven-time driver's champion Lewis Hamilton of one of his titles. However, Massa isn't looking for the Singapore results to be canceled. Instead, he's seeking recognition that he should have won the title along with monetary compensation for potential earnings lost.
There's no way of knowing how these proceedings will shake out but a former FIA boss publicly backing Massa could potentially help his cause.
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