Former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa has escalated his legal challenge against Formula 1 bosses and the FIA as he seeks damages for an alleged “conspiracy” which denied the Brazilian the 2008 title.
On 15 August, Massa’s representatives sent F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem an eight-page Letter Before Claim – a formal legal notice issued prior to court proceedings.
A spokesperson from Enyo Law, the London-based firm representing Massa, said the 42-year-old had been “the victim of a conspiracy committed by individuals at the highest level of F1 together with the FIA and Formula One Management”.
Massa’s lawyers claim that the former driver lost out on tens of millions of euros in lost earnings and bonuses as a result of Nelson Piquet Jr. deliberately crashing out of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.
Massa lost out on vital points in his championship challenge as a result of Piquet’s crash. The 2008 championship saw Massa defeated by a single point by McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton.
The incident brought out a safety car that helped Piquet’s Renault teammate, Fernando Alonso, to victory.
Details about ‘Crashgate’ emerged publicly the following year with Renault handed a two-year suspended ban from F1 while team boss Flavio Briatore and technical chief Pat Symonds were also disciplined for their roles in the incident.
At the time, Massa led calls for the FIA to cancel the result of the Singapore Grand Prix however the FIA’s International Sporting Code dictated that classification from each season is set in stone once the FIA Awards ceremony is completed.
“Simply put, Mr Massa is the rightful 2008 Driver’s Champion, and F1 and FIA deliberately ignored the misconduct that cheated him out of that title,” the letter read.
“Mr Massa is unable to fully quantify his losses at this stage but estimates that they are likely to exceed tens of millions of Euros.
“This amount does not cover the serious moral and reputational losses suffered by Mr Massa.”
The 11-time winner began pursuing legal action earlier this year when former F1 owner Bernie Ecclestone revealed that he and former FIA president Max Mosely knew Piquet’s crash was deliberate. but chose not to act.
An FIA spokesperson confirmed receipt of “correspondance” from Massa, saying: “The matter is under review and we will not be providing comment at this stage.”
While F1 is yet to comment, Ecclestone told Reuters that he could not remember saying the quotes attributed to him.