Formula 1

Felipe Massa’s Legal Action in the Wake of Crashgate Scandal Draws Bernie Ecclestone’s Controversial Comparison

A deep dive into the legal proceedings initiated by Felipe Massa, the Crashgate scandal, and Bernie Ecclestone's surprising comparison with the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Just yesterday, Felipe Massa’s lawyers sent preservation notices to several teams and staff members related to the 2008 Crashgate scandal, advising them not to alter or destroy any document related to the case. However, Bernie Ecclestone compared the event with 2021’s controversial season finale in Abu Dhabi involving Lewis Hamilton.

The former CEO of the Formula One group revealed that Massa initiated legal proceedings against Formula 1 for the money and not to protect the sport’s integrity. However, Ecclestone unknowingly opened Pandora’s box this year when he revealed in an interview that he knew about the Crashgate scandal after it occurred. After Nelson Piquet Junior crashed into the wall deliberately to favor teammate Fernando Alonso, which caused Massa to lose the championship to Lewis Hamilton, it was expected that Formula 1 and the FIA would be unaware of the crash being a deliberate one. However, the conspiracy came under the scanner in 2009 after Piquet Jr. left the scene.

“The Massa clan is only in it for the money. But the chances of that are zero.”

Since then, the FIA has followed a single approach to the scandal, unwilling to retract or alter the championship result in any way. But, Ecclestone brought a twist to the story by declaring that he and former FIA president Max Mosley were aware of Renault’s involvement in the manipulation before the end of 2008. Massa claimed that he was chasing justice for the sake of the integrity of the sport and also for compensation in the form of the salary that he lost as a result of not being declared the championship winner. However, Ecclestone has revealed to the Swiss newspaper Blick, saying that won’t be happening:

“Lawsuits against the FIA could have been filed by Hamilton with Mercedes after the not very clean 2021 finale in Abu Dhabi.”

He then went on to compare the Crashgate scandal with the Abu Dhabi GP of 2021 where Lewis Hamilton was on his way to a championship title as he led the Grand Prix. A crash from Nicholas Latifi in the latter stages of the race put the Grand Prix under safety car conditions. Usually in this situation, all lapped cars have the opportunity to un-lap themselves before the racing resumes, however, there was not enough time for this to happen before the end of the race. Then-race director Michael Masi instructed only the lapped cars between Hamilton and Max Verstappen to un-lap themselves so the season could finish under race conditions. Verstappen, on newer tyres, was then able to overtake Hamilton and win the championship. Ecclestone suggested that Hamilton and Mercedes could have initiated legal action in 2021, but they didn’t. He added: I’m not sure what Ecclestone is trying to hint at. Is he saying that Mercedes dropped the idea of a legal battle realizing that the outcome of the race wasn’t going to change?

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