Felipe Massa’s Battle
During an interesting and lengthy interview with the French newspaper L’Equipe, Jean Todt commented on the legal battle led by Felipe Massa and his lawyers regarding the infamous Crashgate case of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. The race was manipulated by the deliberate crash of Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jr., orchestrated by the team to favor the victory of their other driver, Fernando Alonso.
Felipe Massa, who was leading the race before the incident and lost the championship by just one point to Lewis Hamilton, has requested the cancellation of that event following statements made by former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone. Ecclestone recently admitted that the FIA was aware of the facts before the end of that championship and could have intervened during the season, potentially canceling the Grand Prix.
Jean Todt’s Timeline
Jean Todt’s opinion on this matter is of particular interest because between 2008 and 2009, the former Ferrari team principal was transitioning from the offices in Maranello to those of the FIA. The timeline is as follows: at the time of the Marina Bay race, Jean Todt was still a member of the Ferrari board of directors. On July 16, 2009, the Frenchman officially announced his candidacy for the presidency of the federation for the October elections, with the support of the outgoing president Max Mosley. The Crashgate case exploded on August 30, 2009, with a television report by the Brazilian Rede Globo, which then triggered the formal investigation by the FIA.
If the FIA knew…
“The FIA’s rule has always been to ratify the results by December 31 and never go back on its decisions,” Jean Todt explained to L’Equipe. “In the case of Singapore, the facts emerged only a year later, and the sanctions imposed before my arrival were overturned by the Paris Court of Justice.” However, the French manager admits that Massa’s battle, arising from Bernie Ecclestone’s statements, has an interesting starting point.
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“Felipe Massa is bringing new facts to the table. According to Bernie Ecclestone, Max Mosley, my predecessor, and Charlie Whiting, the race director, were aware of it from the beginning. When I was the president of the FIA, I was not aware of it. Discovering that the federation knew the truth before that famous December 31 could really change things. Unfortunately, Charlie and Max are dead. In hindsight, we should have requested the cancellation of the race. The entirely new thing, if true and verifiable, is that those who regulated the championship [the FIA] were aware of the facts,” Jean Todt concluded.