Could Massa take Hamilton’s 2008 title?

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Reading an article over at The Sun, to be fair, many publications are running this story, regarding the 2008 F1 championship. This was the season that saw Lewis Hamilton win his first title over Felipe Massa by a single point in the last race and last turn.

Former F1 boss, Bernie Ecclestone, said that a mistake was made that season regarding the Singapore Grand Prix in which Nelson Piquet Jr. and Renault were found to have deliberately crashed to hand Nelson’t teammate, Fernando Alonso, the win. The Sun’s quote says Ecclestone told “a website” and in fairness of attribution, I believe it was F1 Insider that had the interview.

“Ecclestone told a website: “We decided not to do anything for now. We wanted to protect the sport and save it from a huge scandal.

“That’s why I used angelic tongues to persuade my former driver Nelson Piquet to keep calm for the time being.

“Back then, there was a rule that a world championship classification after the FIA awards ceremony at the end of the year was untouchable.

“So Hamilton was presented with the trophy and everything was fine. We had enough information in time to investigate the matter.”

“According to the statutes, we should have cancelled the race in Singapore under these conditions.  

“That means it would never have happened for the championship standings. And then Felipe Massa would have become world champion and not Lewis Hamilton.”

Now this caught the attention of Felipe Massa, of course, and he is now looking at any possible legal actions.

Speaking to Motorsport.com, Massa said: “There is a rule that says that when a championship is decided, from the moment the driver receives the champion’s trophy, things can no longer be changed, even if it has been proven a theft.

“At the time, Ferrari’s lawyers told me about this rule. We went to other lawyers and the answer was that nothing could be done. So I logically believed in this situation.

“But after 15 years, we hear that the [former] owner of the category says that he found out in 2008, together with the president of the FIA, and they did nothing to not tarnish the name of F1.

“This is very sad, to know the result of this race was supposed to be cancelled and I would have a title.

“In the end, I was the one who lost the most with this result. So, we are going after it to understand all this.”

Now, I would imagine this would be a hard case to contend with and getting the result changed would be very unlikely but in law, you never know. Felipe is in the initial phases of researching whether anything can be done. Statute of limitations might play a role in a 15-year-old situation, the country where this might jurisdictionally fall under etc. It all plays a role.

Mass says he knows it might be slim but that’s why he’s looking in to it.

“There are rules, and there are many things that, depending on the country, you cannot go back after 15 years to resolve a situation.

“But I intend to study the situation; study what the laws say, and the rules. We have to have an idea of what is possible to do.

“If you’ve been punished for something that wasn’t your fault, and it’s the product of a robbery, a stolen race, justice has to be served.

“In fact, the right situation is to cancel the result of that race. It is the only justice that can be done in a case like this.

“We have already seen other situations happening in sports, such as Lance Armstrong, who was proven to have doped, and he lost all the titles. What is the difference?”

He’s right, the Armstrong case was old but they still changed the results. Again, there are a lot of details to research and who knows, Massa’s lawyers might find a easy path to restitution, you just never know. My hunch is nothing will be changed but let’s see what transpires.

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Xean Drury

Well, isn’t that a kettle of fish. If Massa were successful, I would hope that they would co-champion the 2008 season. That would be a quick way to resolve this issue without dragging it through the mud for years. And though I’m expressly not a Hamilton fan, it would be unfair to strip a title that, split by a point in the season end, is deserving to both drivers. ~X8

Fabio

How long do you think it will take the Hamilton fans to start foaming at the mouth over this?
Not to mention Ted!

charlie w

What’s Massa’s endgame here? Certainly, he won’t be getting the 2008 World Championship trophy fifteen years after the fact. This episode showed how despicable Flavio Briatore is as a person. Bernie, Max and Charlie Whiting hid everything about it to protect the sport’s integrity. I suppose this is a conversation to us for the next 30 days until the next race.

Nige

The Armstrong example doesn’t really work for me. Yes, he was stripped of his 7 titles, but nobody was bumped up to winner (they were all doping). So for those 7 Tour de France’s there was technically no winner. Also, if Massa was successful with this lunacy it would open the floodgates of excrement for decades to come. Prost could lawyer up and argue that since Senna intentionally crashed into him, Senna should be disqualified and the 1989 title awarded to him. Imagine how nasty it could get if somehow evidence is produced that Schumacher really did have traction control… Read more »

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