Felipe Massa’s legal case over the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix could set a precedent which affects Lewis Hamilton’s controversial 2021 championship defeat, Mercedes believe.
Massa’s legal team began work on the case after former F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone claimed the FIA knew before the end of the 2008 season that the race had been manipulated by winners Renault. Nelson Piquet Jnr deliberately crashed his car during the race in order to cause a Safety Car period which his team mate Fernando Alonso benefited from.
Wolff said the case was “interesting to follow” for Mercedes. “This is clearly not something that anybody saw coming, the rules are pretty clear in Formula 1.
“If there’s a civil case behind it, it would certainly set a precedent, whatever it is. We are looking from the sidelines with curiosity.”
Hamilton lost the 2021 world championship following a controversial decision by former race director Michael Masi, who arranged a last-lap restart in contravention of the rules. That allowed Max Verstappen to overtake Hamilton on the final lap and clinch the championship.
Mercedes’ protests over the race were thrown out. They considered a further appeal but decided not to proceed as even if the race result was annulled, Hamilton would not have won the championship.
However Wolff says Massa’s efforts to cancel the result of a race which took place 15 years ago in order to claim a title he lost to Hamilton by a single point raises the prospect of reopening the matter of disputed 2021 championship.
“The FIA commented on the 2021 race with a clear statement,” he said. “So that’s why we were looking at it with interest.”
Three months after the 2021 finale the FIA confirmed Masi had made an error in restarting the race without allowing all lapped cars to rejoin the lead lap. He never ran another F1 race and subsequently left the FIA.
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