SAO PAULO (AP) — Former Formula One driver Felipe Massa has accused auto racing’s governing body of conspiring to prevent him from winning the 2008 title, and the Brazilian claims he is the “rightful” champion.
Massa, who was the runner-up to Lewis Hamilton in the 2008 season, made his claim in a letter sent to the FIA in the first step of a legal battle to take place in Britain.
A member of Massa’s management team told The Associated Press on Thursday that the letter was also sent to Formula One Management, alleging the two bodies failed to act after learning that same year that Renault’s Nelson Piquet Jr. had deliberately crashed at the Singapore Grand Prix to help then-teammate Fernando Alonso win the race.
The crash caused a safety car to come in with Massa in the lead and squandered his advantage. A calamitous pit stop at the Ferrari boxes soon after cost the Brazilian the race, where he finished 13th.
McLaren’s Hamilton finished third in Singapore. The British driver went on to lift the first of his seven titles that year with a dramatic fifth-place finish at the Brazilian Grand Prix, which was won by Massa. The difference between the two drivers was one point.
“Simply put, Mr. Massa is the rightful 2008 champion, and F1 and the FIA deliberately ignored the misconduct that stripped him of that title,” the letter states.
Massa’s letter was triggered by an interview of former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, who said in March that he was aware of Piquet’s deliberate crash in that same year but chose not to investigate it until Hamilton received the season’s title at an FIA ceremony.
Massa argues that such decision is also a breach of contract, accusing the two bodies of failing to preserve the integrity of the sport. The Brazilian driver did not respond an AP request to comment.
The FIA and FOM did not make comments about Massa’s letters.
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