Scuderia Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur has indicated that the Maranello team is actively pursuing clarity from the FIA concerning Felipe Massa’s 2008 legal action. However, he personally holds reservations about altering race outcomes, especially over a decade later.
Recently, the former Ferrari driver initiated legal action against Formula 1 and the FIA. He sent a formal Letter Before Claim notice, seeking compensation for losing the 2008 World title to Lewis Hamilton due to the significant role played by ‘Crashgate’ in determining the result.
At the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, Renault orchestrated Nelson Piquet Jr’s deliberate crash to benefit his teammate Fernando Alonso. Subsequent pit stops caused the Ferrari driver to go from leading the race to leaving the pit lane with his fuel hose still attached. He finished out of the points, while his title-rival Lewis Hamilton secured third place at the newly built Marina Bay Street Circuit in Marina Bay.
Lewis Hamilton, driving for McLaren, ultimately won the championship by a narrow margin of one point.
Former Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone reportedly confessed earlier this year to being aware of Renault’s cheating during the 2008 season, indicating that the FIA and himself knew about it. The former chief executive of the Formula One Group stated that the race in Singapore should have been canceled under those circumstances, ensuring Felipe Massa would have become the world champion instead of Lewis Hamilton.
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The British business magnate later denied giving the interview, but Felipe Massa continued his legal action. His lawyers contend that his lack of World Champion status cost him “tens of millions of Euros,” and that there was an internal “conspiracy” that prevented him from claiming the 2008 Formula 1 championship.
Fred Vasseur, Ferrari’s new team principal, is keenly observing the unfolding legal proceedings. Speaking to the media ahead of the Dutch Grand Prix, he expressed the Maranello team’s efforts to seek clarification from the FIA on the matter. However, the French manager maintains personal reservations about altering race outcomes, particularly after such a long period of time.
“As you can imagine, I don’t want to make any comment on this matter. I have a good relationship with all the stakeholders, and it’s quite tricky. The circumstances were completely exceptional. But more generally, and not about Felipe, I think we (Ferrari) are also trying to push the FIA to know the result of the event at the chequered flag. I don’t want to make any comments but for sure it will be strange.” – the Ferrari boss pointed out.
At the same time, Fred Vasseur wanted to highlight the fact that he does not agree with the idea of final race results changing even immediately after the Formula 1 event, not to mention 15 years later.
“I’m not a big fan to change the result of a race 15 minutes after the chequered flag,” he French manager concluded.
As a result of Felipe Massa’s legal action, an explanation and reply is expected from Formula 1 and the FIA until the end of the month.