F1 legend Felipe Massa’s lawyers are asking Lewis Hamilton to support the Brazilian’s case to be named the 2008 world champion as a matter of “sporting integrity”. Massa missed out on the title that year to Hamilton by one point following the Brazilian Grand Prix.
However, earlier on in the season, Massa saw victory at the Singapore Grand Prix snatched from him following a safety car controversy. Renault had reportedly instructed Nelson Piquet Jr. to crash deliberately to trigger a safety car, eliminating Massa’s chances of winning and allowing his teammate Fernando Alonso to claim his only win of the season.
Massa now claims the race should have been cancelled and it has been reported that the sport’s leaders knew before the end of the season what had transpired in Singapore. Bernardo Viana, one of Massa’s lawyers, has called on that year’s championship winner, Hamilton, to support Massa’s case, which would see the Brit be stripped of his first of seven F1 titles.
“He is an important ambassador for the sport and has always defended sporting integrity. He is an honorary Brazilian citizen and very well-liked by Brazilians, so I hope he will support us,” Viana told Reuters. “We have absolutely nothing against Hamilton.”
Viana also revealed that Massa has given F1 and its governing body, the FIA, until mid-October to respond. “The ball is in their court, we’ve been waiting for their response,” Viana said. “They asked for more time, until mid-October, and in good faith we have agreed to that.”
Massa, who never ended up winning an F1 world championship during his career, expects his former team, Ferrari, to support his legal claim to the 2008 title. “I have one certainty: that title is mine and it is Ferrari’s 16th drivers’ title,” Massa told Italian state broadcaster TG1.
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“I have hired a team of very strong lawyers. We will fight to the end to obtain justice in this sport. I don’t understand why a case of manipulation cannot be verified in the way right, even if a year, two years or 15 years later. At this moment I have not yet had the support of Ferrari, but I expect help from them. I am optimistic: I will fight for the justice until the end.”
Hamilton went on to win six F1 world championships following the 2008 controversy to draw level with record-holder Michael Schumacher on seven. However, the German is also facing calls to have one of his championships stripped by legendary motorsport journalist Roger Benoit after his collision with Damon Hill, which contributed toward his 1994 win.
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