When he decided to fight a battle in court to be recognized as the 2008 F1 champion, Felipe Massa, 42, had two objectives: to obtain reparations for Brazilian motorsport and, no less important, to be compensated for everything he believes he failed to do. to win.
Bernardo Viana, a Brazilian lawyer who leads the pilot’s legal team in Brazil, estimates that his client has recorded losses that could exceed US$100 million (R$494 million). “We just need to go back, look at the information about increases in champions’ contracts, sponsorships and everything else. This was in addition to the image gain he would have”, he says to Sheet.
“We are talking about a very substantial cause,” he says. “But, just to emphasize, his main objective is sporting.”
This week, Massa’s representatives sent notifications called “preservation notices” to Ferrari, Renault-Alpine, ING (former sponsor of the French team), Flavio Briatore, Pat Symonds and Steve Nielsen.
“Preservation notices” are formal document preservation requests, used to make the recipient aware of a dispute. The action aims to prevent the destruction or modification of documents, in this case related to the 2008 Singapore GP.
Renault engineer at the time, Pat Symonds would have asked Nelson Piquet Jr., son of three-time champion Nelson Piquet, to deliberately crash his car during the race to benefit Fernando Alonso, his teammate on the French team. The action changed the dynamics of the race at a time when Massa was leading it.
The outcome of the race also impacted the decision of the World Cup, won by Lewis Hamilton by one point over the Brazilian from Ferrari.
Flavio Briatore, who was the boss of Renault, is now an ambassador for F1. Pat Symonds works at Formula One Management (FOM), the category’s commercial arm. Steve Nielsen has a position at the FIA (International Automobile Federation).
The presence of these names in current F1 bothers Massa. Especially because he started his venture after a recent interview with Bernie Ecclestone. Former F1 boss Ecclestone said he, then FIA president Max Mosley and Charlie Whiting, who was race director, learned of the scandal during the 2008 season but deliberately chose not to act.
“This is very serious,” said the pilot in a recent interview with Sheetbefore pointing out the former leader’s statement as a “new fact” to try to reopen the case in court.
Although he also said that he considers the Brazilian to be the 2008 champion, Ecclestone now criticizes the driver’s actions. “The Massa clan only cares about money. But the chances of that happening are zero.”
After the new statement from the former F1 boss, Massa told the reporter that “Ecclestone only decided to say something after he saw the seriousness of our case.” The driver stated that he will not “accept this stain on the sport” and that the Brit “is afraid of everything that will come to light with the lawsuits. It doesn’t matter. As we have said several times, our objective is the trophy. We continue with our battle for the justice of sport.”
The Brazilian has sought support from important figures in motorsport, such as members of Ferrari, Nelsinho Piquet and even Hamilton. What the driver does not understand, according to his lawyers, is why the CBA (Brazilian Automobile Confederation) has not yet mobilized.
“This inertia worries us, this silence from the CBA, which should be the main interested party with us. What suffered the most, besides Felipe, was Brazilian motorsport, with the lack of investment, the lack of sponsorship, everything that didn’t happen and could have happened after the title”, argues Bernardo Viana.
“We hope and hope that the CBA comes out of this inertia and acts effectively, not just in speech, because part of the CBA’s role is to represent our motorsport.”
When contacted by the report, the entity stated in a note that “the president [Giovanni Guerra] has already expressed its support within the FIA — and with the driver himself — exclusively in the sporting sphere.” The emphasis on the sporting aspect is justified because “the CBA and its president do not have any involvement, interest or benefits in possible economic, political and courts.”
“The president of the CBA considers the former Ferrari driver’s claim to be legitimate and pertinent. And, as a sportsman, the director understands that the Brazilian is the true 2008 F1 world champion”, adds the text.
It has not been easy for Massa to echo his struggles in the F1 circus, although he still acts as one of the series’ ambassadors. In the last stage, in Monza, he was instructed not to attend the racetrack to avoid embarrassment.
The category also ordered the removal of a banner placed by Ferrari fans with the phrase “Felipe Massa champion of 2008”. This happened after the driver’s lawyers sent a letter to F1 and the FIA, mandatory in the United Kingdom — where the process began — before filing a lawsuit.
“I can only speculate about the reason. But they were certainly afraid of the pressure from the tifosi [como são conhecidos os torcedores da Ferrari]who, quite rightly, would put pressure on F1, Ferrari, the FIA, to do what is right”, says Viana.
Initially, the FIA and F1 would have 15 days to respond to the letter, sent in August by the Brazilian’s representatives. The parties, however, agreed to set a new date, and the entities will now have until October 12th to respond.
See the full CBA note
“In principle, given that the reason for its existence is the Brazilian Pilot, it is the duty of the Brazilian Automobile Confederation (CBA) to unconditionally support and provide institutional support to every claim directed to the FIA by its members and, in this case, there is a additional motivation of a personal nature [do presidente] in contributing sportingly with Felipe Massa.
In this sense, the president has already expressed his support within the FIA - and with the driver himself – exclusively in the sporting sphere. It should be noted that it is ‘sporting’ because the CBA and its president have no involvement, interest or benefits in possible economic, political and judicial disputes.
The president of the CBA considers the former Ferrari driver’s claim legitimate and pertinent and, as a sportsman, the director believes that the Brazilian is the true 2008 Formula 1 world champion.
It highlights, however, that such a position in no way undermines the pilot Lewis Hamilton, who carried out his activity competently and far from the events that generated the discussion that is now being presented.
Although Felipe Massa already occupies an honorable place on the podium of great Brazilian idols in international motorsport, the possibility of being officially considered the 2008 world champion would represent an additional stimulus to the new generations of Brazilian drivers who are being trained in karting and in the categories- school of single-seaters, notably Formula 4 and, in addition, it would be an auspicious manifestation of justice.
In addition to the sports and citizenship field, this historical correction, even if late, would represent another reason for honor for the Giovanni Guerra Management, elected on January 15, 2021, since, since then, we have already been able to celebrate the titles world championships in Kart (Matheus Morgatto), Formula 2 (Felipe Drugovich) and Formula 3 (Gabriel Bortoleto).”