McLaren poke fun at Massa’s bid to take 2008 F1 title from Hamilton

2008 F1 season

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Felipe Massa’s disclosure he is considering legal action over his world championship defeat 15 years ago prompted an amused reaction from McLaren.

Massa was beaten to the 2008 title by Lewis Hamilton in a famous showdown finale at the Brazilian driver’s home event. While Massa won the race, Hamilton denied him the title by claiming fifth place on the final lap.

However Massa remains aggrieved over the damage done to his title hopes at an earlier round in Singapore. Fernando Alonso won the race but the following year it emerged his Renault team had eased his path to victory by arranging for his team mate Nelson Piquet Jnr to crash and cause a Safety Car period.

Massa led the race until that point but his chances of scoring points were ruined by a botched pit stop during that Safety Car period. Hamilton, who had been second before Piquet’s crash, finished third and scored six points more than Massa that day. He went on to clinch the title by a single point.

However former Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone recently claimed the FIA knew of the ‘Crashgate’ episode in 2008 and could have taken action over the outcome of the race. Massa responded last week saying he wants “justice” and is “going after it to understand all this.”

McLaren drew attention to coverage of Massa’s reaction on social media, sharing screengrabs of it accompanied by a montage of pictures of Hamilton clinching the 2008 title in Brazil. “Denial is a river of Egypt,” it remarked in the video’s description, referencing a phrase from a popular social media meme.

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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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42 comments on “McLaren poke fun at Massa’s bid to take 2008 F1 title from Hamilton”

  1. Interesting choice of picture there with Piquet Jnr overseeing their handshake :) Foreshadowing much…….

    I have nothing but respect for what Felipe achieved in F1, but his endeavors here are like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic…………….. effin pointless

    1. The problem is, if we change an event in the past, we can’t assume that everything that happened after the changed event would have been the same. Maybe Massa would have still lost the title even if he had won in Singapore. Thoughts and actions by people would have been different.

      Also, Massa didn’t perform to a world champion level post-2008, did he.

      1. It’s a bit like hamilton in malaysia 2016, for the record I am for massa winning the 2008 title and hamilton 2016, but rosberg kinda settled with 2nd places after japan, because he had enough points gap; if hamilton didn’t have the problem in malaysia, rosberg would’ve likely been more aggressive and could’ve won at least 1 of the final 4 races, which means if we went back and canceled hamilton’s engine failure it’s not 100% he would win.

      2. Also, Massa didn’t perform to a world champion level post-2008, did he.

        Getting hit with hundreds of grams of suspension elements at 200+ kph might do that to a driver.

      3. Andre, regardless of everything else, what you say here is the key point. You cannot change one result histroically and assume everything else would remain the same. In fact, if Piquet hadn’t crashed when he did, maybe Ferrari would still have stuffed up the pit stop for Massa and given him an even worse result.

  2. It takes one to know one :)

  3. Sure let’s go the whole hog! He should take legal action over his botched pit stop too, and that spring in 2009.

    1. Not to mention going after Ferrari for their abysmal performance in the wet at Silverstone in 2008. He spun HOW many times?!?

      1. I dunno. But we all feel a bit dizzy. He discovered bits of grass nobody at Silverstone even knew existed until that day.

  4. Man… It’s been 15 years and Massa still hasn’t stopped his whining about the Singapore GP.

    Honestly, his claim isn’t even that strong… as his nozzle would have been stuck to his car, with the pit crew light on green, regardless of when he pitted and who crashed. There was always zero logic in Massa asking for the race decision to be overturned. He seemed graceful in defeat in the 2008 season… but 15 years later it doesn’t seem graceful at all. He needs to let this go.

    1. Worse, there’s a fair chance that pursuing action over the Singapore race might actually make Hamilton’s championship margin stronger. If Alonso is eliminated from the results, Rosberg would move up to 1st (something he deserved, since that should have been his first F1 win) and Hamilton would move up to 2nd.

      I can’t see throwing out the entire event– when a team cheats, they’re disqualified. The entire race isn’t thrown out.

    2. @todfod the more notable issue is that Massa is relying entirely on the word of Bernie – and given the judge presiding over the Bernie-Constantin Media trial in 2014 said “I find it impossible to regard him as a reliable or truthful witness” and that he “cannot accept Mr Ecclestone’s evidence” due to his unreliability as a witness, it’s likely most courts would throw out a case that is currently based on the say so of an individual who was considered so unreliable and untruthful in previous court cases that his testimony was considered, at least in part, inadmissible as evidence in a court of law.

      1. Auto Motor und Sport’s Michael Schmidt has confirmed that he was told what happened, off the record, on the day of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix by Nelsinho himself.

        Beyond that, it’s Michael’s contention that Nelson Sr told Charlie Whiting by the season’s final race in Brazil, and that’s how Bernie might have been informed, while Max Mosley was in the dark until mid-2009 when the younger Piquet lost his seat with Renault.

    3. The championship won’t change. That’s a given.

      What could happen, and there’s plenty of precedence for this in other sports, is for the race winner to be stricken out. And for the race to simply be listed without a winner.

      Fernando Alonso did not win the Singapore GP in 2008. Renault cheated. This was proven, admitted, the whole thing. The only person involved who continues to deny having any knowledge of it is the same man who only admitted to being involved in another cheating scam the prior year after first blackmailing his boss and then being offered immunity by the FIA. So… yeah.

      1. Let’s be clear when making assertions Michael. Fernando Alonso did win the 2008 Singapore GP and it was proven that he knew nothing of the plan. That was attested by the police investigator in 2009 and Alonso in the cool down rooms points out how fortunate the crash was for his race. Let’s not tarnish the reputation of a driver who did not know of the plot.

        Hamilton also knew of the spygate documents as did de la Rosa. I’d be amazed if Fisichella didn’t know if Renault’s involvement in spygate also. So let’s not direct a cheating allegation at one person when there is clear corruption at the top of 2 massive organisations which had been at the sharp end of the sport for decades by this point.

        I think Renault should be excluded from 2008 Singapore GP and the race be declared without a winner but name calling and wild allegations don’t help anyone.

        1. AllTheCoolNamesWereTaken
          14th April 2023, 7:40

          [I]t was proven that [Alonso] knew nothing of the plan.

          That’s just not true, though, @rbalonso. Alonso was not proven innocent. He just wasn’t proven guilty. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. While we’re on the subject:

          Alonso in the cool down rooms points out how fortunate the crash was for his race.

          This most definitely is not proof that he didn’t know of the team’s plan to cheat. He would have been saying this whether he knew or not.

          And yes, other teams have also cheated – among them McLaren. You may recall that they were punished quite severely for what they did. In addition to being hit with a $100 million fine, they were also excluded from the 2007 constructors’ championship. For the record, if they had been punished even more severely – for instance, if they had also been excluded from the drivers’ championship – I wouldn’t have been able to come up with a compelling argument against it. There would be precedent for it, seeing as this happened to the Tyrrell drivers in the 1984 championship.

          Back to Renault and Crashgate. 15 years on, most people seem to think of this as a greater scandal than McLaren’s 2007 cheating – perhaps unfairly, but here we are. The reason why a lot of people feel this way is probably down to three things: 1) Crashgate was a very visible, very tangible example of cheating. Spygate was less tangible. 2) Crashgate hinged on Piquet crashing in order to bring out the safety car. In other words, Renault deliberately endangered their own driver. This, for me, is the big one. 3) The outcome of the race put Massa at a disadvantage in the world championship, which he ended up losing. By contrast, Spygate ultimately didn’t affect the 2007 drivers’ championship, seeing as Kimi edged it – just. If he hadn’t, I have a feeling that more people would probably think of the 2007 championship as tarnished, the same way many think of the 2008 championship.

          Now, I’m not saying that Hamilton didn’t deserve the 2008 crown. He obviously wasn’t complicit in Crashgate in any way, and as far as I’m concerned, he deserved the drivers’ title every bit as much as Massa. Sometimes, these things happen: Two (or more) drivers are equally deserving, but only one of them can win. That’s the nature of the sport. But, there’s a slight shadow hanging over 2008, for the simple reason that we don’t know what would have happened if Crashgate hadn’t occurred. Maybe Hamilton still would have won … but maybe not. This uncertainty has left a lingering bad taste in many people’s mouths, and I can understand why.

          As stated, this all happened a long time ago. For this reason (as well as others), it is highly unlikely that the FIA would go back and retroactively do anything to change the official results of Singapore 2008, such as they are. But if they were to strip Alonso of his win, I wouldn’t be able to come up with a compelling argument against it. Frankly, I’ll go one further: I’d like to see it happen. Not because it would change anything championship-wise (it wouldn’t, nor should it: it would be unfair to strip Hamilton of a WDC for something another team did), but because Alonso’s win most certainly wasn’t a real win. It was a direct result of race-fixing, which involved the deliberate endangerment of another driver. This is deeply, deeply unethical on a number of levels. Whether or not Alonso knew about the plan in advance, he certainly benefitted from it – unfairly. And if I were a betting man, I’d say he most likely did know. He would have had questions about the fuel strategy the team put him on ahead of the race. I’d be surprised if someone – i.e., Briatore or Symonds – didn’t whisper something in his ear at that point. I’ll grant that there’s no way to prove this – certainly not now, 15 years later – but if true, it would make Alonso complicit. Not the main culprit, but complicit nonetheless.

          1. I broadly agree with most of what you say here and thanks for taking the time to reply.

            However, I don’t agree with your logic on absence of evidence. Any human is innocent until proven guilty. The sport could easily have interviewed Alonso in house – had they done so I’d agree it would be flimsy evidence. But to get a former police investigator to interrogate him and, after 15 years, not a shred of evidence to prove the allegations that he knew – I find that distasteful.

            Let’s also remember in 2008 you qualified with your race fuel. Alonso was fighting for a top place, after all he won the next round in Fuji on merit, but the car let him down in qualifying. It’s not unbelievable to me that Alonso would choose a strategy to gain him places at the start and pit early given you knew the fuel loads of the top 10. There’s no conspiracy in that for me.

            As I state above I think Renault were totally wrong, vile cheats. But it’s one thing to infer Alonso knew, it’s another to collate spygate and Singapore as evidence that we have a driver who is a cheat on the grid. That to me is not acceptable no matter who it is and the real villains of the piece – Flavio, Pat and Piquet jr were all rightly removed from the sport.

          2. The questions over Spygate was whether the punishment was deliberately heavy more out of personal antagonism between Dennis and Mosely, given the way in which other contemporary teams were treated.

            In 2007, Toyota had two former employees – Angelo Santini and Mauro Iacconi – imprisoned for industrial espionage. Those two former employees had brought information from Ferrari to Toyota that was supposedly then used by Toyota to produce their 2002 and 2003 cars: however, despite a successful criminal prosecution by Ferrari against those former employees, the FIA never investigated Toyota.

            Meanwhile, also in 2007, Colin Kolles, who was running the Spyker team at the time, was walking around the paddock with blueprints from Red Bull and Toro Rosso, and even submitted them to the FIA as part of his protest that the Toro Rosso car was an illegal copy of Red Bull’s own car (thus violating the regulations on customer cars at the time). It’s hard to see how more blatant you could be about engaging in industrial espionage than posting evidence of it to the FIA, and yet the FIA never asked Kolles to explain how exactly he was getting hold of blueprints from Red Bull.

            It’s also somewhat ironic that you cite Tyrrell in 1984, because there were complaints then, which remain today, that the particularly heavy punishment for Tyrrell was politically motivated. After all, at least some of the evidence that the FIA cited – the claims of a high hydrocarbon content in the water samples they took from Tyrrell – was proven by independent testing to be inaccurate, and more than a few suggestions that the FIA was taking revenge against Tyrrell for their long standing political opposition to the FIA.

          3. AllTheCoolNamesWereTaken
            14th April 2023, 11:11

            I’ll have to keep this reply brief, @rbalonso, as, unfortunately, the real world demands my attention.

            You wrote:

            Any human is innocent until proven guilty.

            This, obviously, is an important principle. That much I agree with. Any official sanctions against Alonso over Crashgate (other than stripping him of his win, which we both agree would be appropriate) would be unfounded, given the absence of evidence against him. And indeed, no official sanctions were ever implemented.

            However, one can still speculate. This, as far as I can tell, is largely what comment sections are for. Which brings me to the next thing I want to address:

            It’s not unbelievable to me that Alonso would choose a strategy to gain him places at the start and pit early given you knew the fuel loads of the top 10.

            You are entitled to your opinion. However, Renault’s decision to fuel Alonso light for the first stint was the exact opposite to what most teams in their position would do during the refueling era. Most teams who found themselves out of position after qualifying would go for a heavy fuel load, thereby saving a pit stop. This would be an especially obvious strategy at Singapore, where overtaking is notoriously difficult, and a light fuel load is therefore less of an advantage. (I realize that F1 had never raced at Singapore before, but given the characteristics of the track, the teams probably had a hunch that overtaking wouldn’t be easy.)

            In short, Renault chose a strategy which was uncommon and, frankly, didn’t make a whole lot of sense – unless, of course, they had something planned. This brings me back to what I wrote above: Alonso would have had questions.

            Finally, you wrote:

            it’s one thing to infer Alonso knew, it’s another to collate spygate and Singapore as evidence that we have a driver who is a cheat on the grid.

            Alonso’s actions prior to, and during, the Spygate scandal is concrete proof that, at least at that time, he wasn’t above straight-up cheating to gain an advantage. While this obviously is not a smoking gun with regards to Crashgate, it lends credibility to the notion that, in that incident as well as Spygate, his hands might be less than clean. Like I said, one can speculate.

            All this is coming from an Alonso fan, by the way. I didn’t always like him, but since he returned to the grid in 2021, I’ve found myself warming up to him. Regardless of what he may or may not have done in the past, I figure he paid his debt during his many years stuck in hopeless cars. Now that he’s finally back to being competitive, I’ll be rooting for him to bag another win or two on merit.

            (I know, I know. This turned out to not be particularly brief.)

    4. I think this will be another record that lewis will take , over 15 years he will be the one wining the longest over abu dhabi lol

      1. @cdfemke

        I’m not supporting any driver whining… but Lewis is justified to whine. Rules were broken to take that championship away from him. Massa never had that championship anyways.

        1. Hi lewis fan :)

  5. McLaren sinks lower by the day. Not surprised I find such drivel on TikTok from a company hugely into marketing (McLaren).

    How far the mighty have fallen.

    1. You’d think they’d appreciate being mentioned in a 2023 article about F1 championships.

      It’s not like they’re spoiled for choice.

      1. LOL, good point MichaelN and @floodo1, though I think Massa is foolish if he really intends to challenge that result, this McLaren ‘marketing’ is really sour and mean-spirited, and certainly doesn’t make me feel good about the team. Glad that Hamilton so far has kept it more graciously about that subject at the least.

  6. I had to double check that post was from the real McLaren account when it came up on my feed, I was sure the first time it came from one of those terrible meme accounts. Pretty disappointed as a McLaren fan (and very surprised that a team would put out something like this), regardless if there’s basis for Massa’s claim or not.

    1. Well said @hunocsi, it really is.

    2. I had to double check the post itself – my first experience with our Chinese data gathering friends – because it seemed broken.

      Apparently it was not but it’s even shorter then I thought the attention span of the current online world is.

  7. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
    13th April 2023, 14:17

    It takes a lot of courage to post something like this when your actions during those years weren’t clean at all(spygate,Hungaroring gate and so on).
    Massive L for McLaren

  8. The big issue with the claim is that all the remaining races would have played out the same way they did. As soon as one event happens earlier in the season, it changes everything after it. The psychology, tactics, pressure etc would all be different in the future races depending on the points difference, and you would get different results.

  9. What’s McLaren’s deal here? It’s not like the team won anything in 2008.

    1. @proesterchen their driver did though.

      1. A driver driving for the 2008 McLaren Formula 1 team was crowned WDC that year.

        How that relates to the perennially underachieving 2023 Formula 1 team of the same name, a team said driver chose to distance himself from over a decade ago, only the people having OK-ed this release will know.

        1. Good point, it’s a very weak link indeed.

  10. British media pokes fun of Massa’s desperate bid for the 2008 title but keeps serious about Hamilton/Toto/Sky whining over 2021 result…selective outrage.

    1. It is kinda typical, although this guy did wait 15 years… He could become the first retired F1 driver to win the championship.

    2. non surprisingly

  11. Same as 2021. Its done. Leave it alone.

    1. Yes, somehow there is the misconception (or is it hope?) that FIA has democratic elements in it. They don’t. They will never recall. This whole debate is useless.

  12. Fine! As long as we also readjust “the worst judgement in the history of F1” (Niki Lauda), namely the decision to penalize Hamilton for being driven off track by Raikkonen (who then went on to make ample use of a more abrasive off-track section at Les Combes to repass Hamilton who had stayed on track!) and give the ridiculously useless in the wet Massa the race win at Spa 2008! A fantastic duel between two far superior drivers, ruined by a needless penalty that seemed designed to gift Ferrari and Massa.

  13. Give him the trophy. I am sure it will be really satisfying. Lol.

  14. Honestly, if I was Hamilton, I’ll return the 2008 title to Massa, just because he was benefited by wrong doing. This is not what Formula one people appreciate and want to see. People like Briatore and it’s gang should pay for that and be banned forever from F-1.

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