Alonso and Hamilton unwilling to discuss Massa’s bid to claim 2008 title

Formula 1

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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.

Thursday marked the 15th anniversary of Massa’s championship defeat to 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.

Nelson Piquet Jnr, Renault., Singapore, 2008
Feature: Crashgate – The 2008 Singapore Grand prix controversy explained
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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Author information

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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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13 comments on “Alonso and Hamilton unwilling to discuss Massa’s bid to claim 2008 title”

  1. “the championship he lost at his home race a decade and a half ago”

    Saying he “lost” the chapionship is incorrect. He never had it to lose. He didn’t do enough to win it. I often hear people say he was champion for 40 seconds until Hamilton overtook whoever it was. I can understand the imagery they are portraying but it is still incorrect. It would be like saying Hamilton was champion until three laps from the end in 2021, or that after the first race in 2018, Vettel was briefly WDC but then they went and ran another 20 races instead of red flagging the season. Massa was never WDC, not even for a brief instant.

    1. It would be like saying Hamilton was champion until three laps from the end in 2021

      The difference being that Massa had already finished the race, and taken enough points to leapfrog Hamilton in the standings. That’s why people say he was ‘champion for 40 seconds’ or whatever, and not for the whole race.

      That Hamilton got back in front on points, albeit barely, was not certain then. It was, in a sense, a ‘match point’ move (it’s not a perfect analogy of course). By Massa winning the race, Hamilton had to finish and had to score enough points or Massa would take the title. He did, but for about a minute it wasn’t certain he would.

      1. Race isn’t over until all running cars have crossed the finish line for the final time. Even then, maybe not if there are post-race penaties applied

        1. That reminds me of some rumor back then that the the rules stated:

          When the leader completes the last lap of the race, and crosses the finish line, the race ends

          which is something that is still in today rules but with the addition that all others cars are allowed to finish he lap they’re on. Don’t know if the rumor got started because that part was missing back then.

          1. exactly. race finishes once the winner crosses the line in the final lap, but classification/points behind the leader continues until everyone finishes their current lap (of course max race time limit applies for the final lap too).

            there are also made up rules like in SPA 21… you can finish the race without racing a single lap and awarded points.
            like spa 2008, you can finish and win and do everything right, and your points can be taken away with rules made up after penalty is applied.
            like in abu dhabi 21, the rules can be ignored completely and race director can make up a decision, give any person in the standings to win the race in a completely never before seen advantage and manipulate the results.

            so yeah, there are rules, but if f1 history shows anything, they can mean nothing as they can be changed and manipulated at will at any point in time during/after the race!

          2. Mystic, since your agenda is obvious, I’d like to point out bahrain 2021 and the 29 laps of corner cutting, which were all legal when done by hamilton, then verstappen did it once, overtook that way, and it got disallowed and had to give back the position. Rules made up on the spot.

  2. Alonso not knowing anything about Singapore is of course very credible. It definitely matches the image of Alonso as someone who doesn’t really get involved in the strategy of his races, and has always been keen to play a supporting role in the team to help his teammates do well.

    And everyone knows that he was also an innocent bystander in that vastly more complex scheme the year before, when certain unscrupulous people made it seem like sending numerous lengthy e-mails discussing which of the stolen Ferrari information to test next was evidence of some sort of involvement in a plot. It sounds silly now, but people back then actually believed Alonso was part of it!

    1. On the race broadcast recently, the BBC’s Andrew Benson described Alonso as being able to have an argument with himself in the dark, which I thought was genius!


    2. I’m really not sure why you’ve made Alonso the target of your comment relating to this article but I’ll bite anyway.

      A former police interrogator concluded Alonso knew nothing about Crashgate. He’s had plenty of bad strategies, he’s not immune from taking a gamble when out of position. What examples are there of him not helping his team-mates? Any more so than any other driver? Hamilton didn’t help Alonso or Rosberg, Verstappen vocally rejects helping Perez, Vettel had multi 21.

      As for Spygate, it’s clutching at straws to try and make Alonso the enemy. Stephney and Coughlan were the orchestrators and the all drivers clearly knew. Is it underhand? I’d say so but Alonso was 3 months in the door when this was happening, that was the paddock culture at the time and was happening up and down the grid.

      Alonso is no saint but casting aspersions without evidence is unnecessary.

  3. Massa’s claim is garbage because it wasn’t Hamilton/ McClaren that cheated.

  4. nobody is willing to discuss because how can you approach something like that?

    Massa was done dirty as he found out inside people were aware of Singapore gate before the end of that championship and nothing was done about it. But Hamilton, Rosberg and other drivers who scored points that day (bar Alonso for obvious reasons) had nothing to do with it and shouldn’t be penalized because of it.

    1. They should ask hamilton if he would mind losing the 2008 title in the worst case scenario, then they’d probably get an answer.

  5. The perfect example of “ it’s not over until it’s over”
    Or as the 1966 World Cup
    “They think think it’s all over.
    It is now!”

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