Felipe Massa’s former rivals were unwilling to discuss his efforts to claim the championship he lost at his home race a decade and a half ago.Lewis Hamilton by a single point at Interlagos. The former Ferrari driver has begun a legal bid to claim the title he believes should be his due to the FIA’s handling of another race that year in Singapore.
Massa led the race until Nelson Piquet Jnr crashed, triggering a Safety Car. A year later it emerged Piquet’s crash had been orchestrated by him and other members of his Renault team to help Fernando Alonso win the race.
As the facts of the race came to light so late, the results of the race were never changed. But Massa has seized upon an interview given by former Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone in which he claimed the FIA knew about the ‘Crashgate’ affair during 2008. He believes they could have taken action earlier and should have voided the results of the race, thereby deducting six points from Hamilton for his third place in Singapore, and making Massa that year’s champion.
Alonso, who according to the FIA at the time “denied any knowledge of any sort of plot”, cut short a journalist who brought up the subject of Masa’s legal bid at Interlagos yesterday. “I have nothing to comment on,” said Alonso, who was Massa’s team mate for four years after the events of Crashgate came to light.
Hamilton, who was not connected to the events of ‘Crashgate’, said he has taken no heed of Massa’s attempts to take away his first of seven world championships. “I’m honestly paying no attention to it,” he answered when the question was raised during yesterday’s official FIA press conference.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has previously dismissed Massa’s chances of success, describing his legal proceedings as a “telenovela.” However he has also said that if Massa is successful in reopening the book on the events of 15 years ago, it may set a precedent which would apply to Hamilton’s controversial defeat in the 2021 championship.
Hamilton was made an honorary citizen of Brazil ahead of last year’s race in Massa’s home city Sao Paulo. He said he has always had a particular affinity for Brazil, despite knowing the crowd was against him in 2008 when he arrived for the championship-deciding race seven points ahead of Massa.
“It’s always been a special race for me,” said Hamilton. “I won my first world championship here. It was kind of crazy back then because I kind of felt like public enemy number one, obviously I was racing against Felipe.
“But the growth that I’ve felt here and the reception that I’ve had here, the amazing support. But I mean, just as a kid growing up at home, being a fan of football, for example, I always loved the Brazilian colours. Me and my brother would play FIFA, for example, and he’d always take England so I’d always take Brazil.
“And then there was Ayrton Senna, just such a big hero for so many of us. And when you come out here, you really feel his presence and it’s just such a beautiful culture.”
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