If Massa wins the title will it be tainted by the Spa controversy? (Poll)

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Felipe Massa's inherited win at Spa has kept him in the title battle

In the run-up to the final race of the season several people have left comments here pointing out that Lewis Hamilton would already be champion had he not received that infamous penalty at Spa-Francorchamps.

Without it the drivers’ championship would already be over. Is that a good thing or not?

Should the drivers’ championship be over already?

Everyone likes a closely-fought championship and a title battle that goes down to the final race.

But because of the controversial penalty Hamilton received at Spa if Massa wins the title now it will be impossible for him to say he would have done it without the six-point swing in his favour the stewards handed him at Spa.

It’s a suggestion that will surely find little support among Massa’s fans – especially givent he problems he’s had this year. But for others it may undermine Massa’s credentials as champion should he win the title.

We’ve been here before

The situation reminds me of the 1982 title-decider. On that occasion John Watson battled Keke Rosberg for the championship at the final round.

Watson’s championship had been boosted by six points gained at Brazil by finishing second. Rosberg had originally been second in that race, but was disqualified for running below the weight limit by using so-called ‘water cooled brakes’ to get around the rules.

Watson’s car infringed the rules in the same way in that race, yet he was not disqualified. As Rosberg ultimately won the title, it didn’t matter. But, much like this year, one driver faced the possibility of losing the title due to a stewards’ decision that many felt was dodgy.

Your verdict

Some might argue the penalty decision is simply bad luck for Hamilton – and Massa has had plenty of misfortune of his own.

Others might simply be glad the penalty means the drivers’ title has gone down to the wire – however it was achieved.

But many people felt Hamilton’s penalty was excessive, including 70% of F1 Fanatic readers (a figure which can’t entirely be down to nationality, as British readership of this site is around 35%). So might they feel Massa’s claim to be a worthy champion is undermined by the controversial decision in his favour at Spa?

Cast your vote and leave a comment below.

Would the Spa penalty diminish Massa?s status as champion?

  • No opinion (2%)
  • No (37%)
  • Yes (60%)

Total Voters: 416

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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29 comments on “If Massa wins the title will it be tainted by the Spa controversy? (Poll)”

  1. Many former F1 greats have referred to the stewards’ decision as incorrect and bad for the sport. I will be guided by their greater knowledge and therefore I vote that Massa’s championship status would not be credible,especialy if LH is ‘interfered with’ by another driver during the final race and subsequently forced to retire.
    It would be good for the sport,and for the men involved,If Massa and LH are the first two over the finish line.The order doesn’t matter (unless,of course,you are Brazilian). Whatever,I hope for a safe race for all the drivers.

  2. If Massa is WDC Sunday I will wonder how he can look at himself in the mirror.

  3. I voted yes…

    Before all the Massa fans jump on me, I’m not trying to detract from his season to date, or ignore the bad luck he’s run in to, but Hamilton’s penalty (whether you agree with it or not) clearly gifted Massa.

    And then of course there was the *ahem* Bourdais incident…

    I’m not blaming Massa for any of this, it wasn’t his doing. It’s his ‘bad’ luck he drives a prancing horse, that’s all ;)

    But yeah, I think Massa winning the WDC would be tainted… which must be a tiny bit gutting for poor old Massa, surely?

  4. William Wilgus
    1st November 2008, 2:04

    Yes, and if it hadn’t been for a blown engine and a pit stop release error, it would be over now also. Whoever wins the most races—fairly—should be the champion. This points system is ridiculous.

  5. William Wilgus
    1st November 2008, 2:05

    What—if Massa wins he’ll get a smaller trophy than Hamilton would have? I’m sure Massa would like to win the F-1 Driver’s Championship by winning every race in a season; what drivewr wouldn’t? The champion is the champion. What part of that is unclear?

    Further, if it hadn’t been for a blown engine and a pit stop release error, it would be over now also. Whoever wins the most races—fairly—should be the champion. This points system is ridiculous.

  6. No it won’t be tainted because there were another 18 races in the calender and Hamilton has had ample opportunity to have wrapped this championship up by now.

  7. i think it’s disgusting the amount of people that voted yes. take a look at yourselves. massa has done no wrong, the only taint would be on hamilton for throwing another championship away from driving with little respect for his fellow drivers.

  8. I have voted no..

    If Massa is to become a champion ; Lewis needs to drive really abysmally on raceday.
    And if Lewis achieves this “feat”.. By no means will he be a deserving champion. Repeating the same mistake twice is not the hallmark of a WDC.

    The excessive number of votes for YES seem to be of those Hamilton fans who are still not sure about the performance of their driver under pressure and are already looking for excuses if Massa becomes WDC.

    The true Hamilton fans will vote NO and accept the result whatever it is

  9. At first, I think Hamilton’s punishment at Spa was fair, or, at the very least, a very difficult decision, not a stupid mistake, neither a clear attempt to favour Ferrari…

    Even if it is wrong, Massa’s title won’t be as tainted as Hamilton’s or Alonso’s last year would be, driving a McLaren, tainted by a confessed/proven/condemned use of intellectual property stolen from their main rivals…

  10. 100% agree with Daniel.

    And I don’t think long retired legends of F1 opinions bear so much fruit in modern F1. Not to say I don’t respect their opinion, it’s always good to know what they think, but I cannot put much weight on their arguments given they’re not currently active in service, or have been for quite a while.

    Bearing in mind Massa’s faults this year haven’t been entirely his own (Silverstone being an abysmal off), whereas McLaren have barely slipped up and it’s mainly been down to Lewis on his downfalls. Massa will deserve to win the championship should Lewis falter that badly.

    Otherwise, fair play to Hamilton. Whatever people think of the penalties, just or unjust, fair or unfair, he emerges champion at the end of the day.

    Having said all this, I’m pretty much apathetic towards who actually wins the WDC, it’s been a poor 2nd season despite the odd good race in terms of the championship. I only want Massa to win the WDC purely because he drives the red car, but given half the chance I’d still rather Kubica or Alonso win it.

    As already mentioned, it’s all for Hamilton to lose. If he does, then thats twice he’s bottled it in the same situation come the last race. No pressure on the guy, he only needs to come 5th – and given his stats, that’s a relatively poor finish.

  11. I voted yes, not just because of Spa, but the Bourdais penalty too. That was an absolute joke and did nothing to silence the growing feeling of pro-Ferrari bias.

    Mechanical/pit crew errors are part and parcel of the whole package so it’s pointless arguing the ‘what ifs’ of those incidents. But the outside decisions of the stewards have had a direct influence on the points standings which for me would taint the final outcome should Massa win.

  12. as a lewis fan i voted no. I for one will not blame the spa decsion if he loses it – as really there can be only one person who can lose the title from here.

  13. no. title it title. people will say: world champion or… 3 time champion – if he happens to collect 3 during his career.

  14. I know many of you like to throw up misfortune Massa has suffered, say at Singapore, in an attempt to balance things out but I’m afraid it does nothing of the sort. All drivers will lose points as a result of mechanical faults and as a result of driver and team errors. The Spa and Fuji incidents where Massa gained points are none of those things though, they are stewards interfering in a race already run and changing the result.

    So I voted yes but it’s not a strong yes. If Massa is champion then he has the most points at the end of the season and that is the end of it, he is champion. However, the Spa penalty was poor and the Bourdais penalty was outrageous. That’s some major points he has been gifted there and there is no comparable gift of points to Hamilton.

  15. I think that certain fans will think of it as tainted – possibly me included

    As for Massa himself – he had nothing to do with the Spa incident (apart from the driving for ferrari aspect)

    Schumacher certailly had a Word Title that would have been seen as a little dodgey – but they do not say “6 times WDC and 1 time WDC in contentious circumstance”

    If FM wins good on him for having a very consistent year\OH and i did vote yes before i really thought about it

  16. I voted yes, for SPA, Burdais, for not penalizing Massa at Valencia for unsafe release from pit-stop etc.

  17. No way, as last year I did not say anything about Kimmi despite the 5 places penaty in Hungary FA got from the FIA for breaking, what rule?. I also do agree with the penalty Lewis got in Spa.

    And do not forget that despite all what happened this season Lewis has by now 7 points lead on Massa, and has not FA 4 points behind this time. If he is not Champion (something I doubt very much)is because he cannot handle with pressure.

  18. michael counsell
    1st November 2008, 10:41

    No because while in some ways Massa has been lucky he has also been very unlucky with engine failures and botched pitstops.

  19. I say yes, but not just Spa. Every penalty where Ferrari have ‘got away with it’ as much as McLaren have been, shall we say, unlucky, would taint a Massa championship, the same way Lewis’ being champion last year would have been tainted by spygate.

    If Lewis wins, it will be a vindication of McLaren’s mettle – $100m down and still winning a championship. Not that they would be operating on $100m less, but psychologically, it would have been a bit hit.

  20. Anyway, I do not think any of them are deserving champions, only the one who less mistakes made. But that is another point to reach.

  21. @Gusto

    Perhaps because it was the FIA that penalised Hamilton and not himself or Ferrari.

    The FIA choose to deem Hamilton’s move as illegal, whether you agree with that or not it doesn’t matter. Hamilton was docked points, and that’s all, it doesn’t devalue Massa if he wins the Championship.

    Lewis has also got away with quite a lot this season. Take Monza as an example.

  22. @Sumedh – Amen

    Sports and Controversies go hand in hand, sometimes makes one feel that its all an elaborate hoax. F1 has been more notorius for random interpretation of rules .

    But still all of us spend 2-3 hrs every racing weekend to watch it (not to mention 20-30 hrs between race to chew on the bones) :D

    So why all this crib. F1 is indeed case of failed marriage where the couples (read FIA/FOM/Team, TEAMS/DRIVERS, FIA/FOM/FANS) squabble, spat at each other in public forums, and still end up in same bed every night :D

  23. No.

    If Massa manages to win the Championship this weekend then he deserves to be Champion, just as Lewis will be a deserving Champion if he wins.

    I disagree with the penalty at Spa and many other decisions that the FIA & stewards have made this year but you can’t blame Felipe for their decisions going his way at times. The blame lies solely with the FIA.

    Both drivers have made mistakes this year & have suffered problems that weren’t their fault but they have still managed to beat the rest of the drivers out there.

  24. Voting ‘yes’ is NOT a comment upon the individual virtues or otherwise of a driver. It is a comment that stewards’ decisions have undermined the ‘simple purity’ of the sport and especially so when such decision/s are extremely debateable as to their correctness.
    If a stewards’ decision materially affects the outcome of the championship(after the race/s), when a given driver could not themselves and with their own skills create that effect,then it is nonsense to postulate that the championship itself has not been devalued.
    Drivers seek to win by skill and I guess no driver can really have pride in the win when such circumstances undermine their skill.

  25. Hamilton has 7 points advantage. If he still looses this championship then he is the biggest loser. Why are you looking for excuses?

    Whoever gets the championship trophy is the worthy champion.

  26. It’s simple, really. If one is a Ferrari and/or Felipe fan his winning the title will be as pure as the driven snow. If one is a McLaren/Lewis fan it will be forever tainted by the Spa screwing Lewis received.

    Objectively? Enough has gone around this year for both sides to claim taint. What really matters is the on track action tomorrow. Clean runs by both drivers and no meddling from the Stoopids will give validity to whichever driver comes home with the spoils.

    Good luck to both and a great contest for all to witness.

  27. If Massa wins then some of us will rant and rave for longer than is good for us, but history only remembers the records, not the controversy. There have been a number of controversial championships in the past half century or so, but who can remember which they were?

  28. If Massa busts his butt to get this win and Lewis can’t get his McMerc into the top five then,Lewis does not deserve the title and Massa does……and next year Alonso will beat them both.

  29. On many a website and forum, I read remarks about Felipe Massa not being a deserved World Champion. However, now that we have Lewis Hamilton as winner, how deserving is he? I’m not saying I don’t rate the guy, but he and his McLaren team have made an alarming amount of mistakes in 2008:

    (a) Crash into Alonso’s car in Bahrain
    (b) Crash into Räikkönen’s car in the pit lane in Canada
    (c) Drive-through penalty because of gaining an unfair advantage while overtaking Vettel in France
    (d) Over-confident manoeuvre on Räikkönen in Japan, sliding off the track 2 corners later, and the subsequent drive-through penalty
    (e) Many small mistakes in the last laps in Brazil, letting Vettel slip by, and taking the title only in the dying minutes, after what I think was a rather lucky, overtaking manoeuvre onTimo Glock in the last corner of the last lap of the last race

    In fact, hadn’t Hamilton been so lucky in Monaco, he and McLaren would have screwed up there, too.

    Don’t get me wrong, Massa has done stupid things, too, this season, but saying he’d deserve the title less than Hamilton, is like saying Räikkönen would have deserved the 2003 or 2005 WDCs less, because of McLaren’s and Mercedes’ erors during those respective season.

    Just my 2¢…

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