Felipe Massa‘s lawyers have asked Lewis Hamilton to give up his 2008 Formula 1 title in the name of sporting integrity as the former Ferrari steps up his legal challenge.
The British driver won the championship with McLaren by one single point from the Brazilian’s Ferrari team, but the trophy is now an open case following comments made by Bernie Ecclestone.
The 92-year-old recently claimed that there was a requirement from F1 to null and void the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, where Renault cheated to win the race. In light of the news Massa opened legal action to investigate whether he unjustly lost out on the F1 title, should Ecclestone‘s words prove to be true.
Hamilton recently dismissed the saga, noting that he is committed to the present as Mercedes looks to get back to winning regularly and fighting for titles.
“We have absolutely nothing against Hamilton,” Massa‘s legal team said to Reuters. “He is an important ambassador of sport and has always defended sporting integrity.
“He is an honorary Brazilian citizen and is very popular with Brazilians, so I hope he will support us.”
Massa is seeking financial compensation for losing out on the title, and should this be forthcoming, it would effectively confirm him as the ‘moral’ and ‘true’ winner of the 2008 F1 Driver’s Championship, even if the honour is never officially bestowed.
What happened in Singapore?
On Lap 12 of the 2008 Singapore GP, Fernando Alonso pitted to complete his mandatory stop and emerged in last place, but one lap later, his Renault teammate Nelson Piquet Jr crashed.
Piquet Jr hit the wall and brought out the safety car, attributing the tyre compound he was running to the reason for him losing control.
As everyone else pitted under the safety car, Ferrari attempted to double-stack their drivers, but released Massa with the fuel hose still attached to his car.
The time lost dropped him from the front of the field to dead last and he would only recover to 13th, costing him valuable points in his title fight as Hamilton finished third for McLaren.
The race, at the time, was perceived as incredible misfortunate, Massa would go on to lose the title by one point.
But it would become embroiled in scandal in 2009 when it emerged Piquet Jr and Renault orchestrated the crash in order to gift Alonso victory.
The scandal fired up again earlier in 2023 as Ecclestone, who had significant control of F1 from the 1970s until 2017, said that F1 was required to null and void the race in 2008.
The billionaire said that he and Max Mosely were aware of a document compelling them to do so, but that the duo ignored it to avoid another controversy at a time when the sport was under constant scrutiny.
Since then, Ecclestone has claimed he has no recollection of saying the document existed, while Mosely died in 2021.