“He is an important ambassador for the sport and has always defended sporting integrity,” he said.
“He is an honorary Brazilian citizen and very well-liked by Brazilians, so I hope he will support us. We have absolutely nothing against Hamilton.”
The legal tussle is all tied to the infamous ‘Crashgate’ scandal stemming from the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, in which Renault F1 Team’s Team Principal Flavio Briatore and Technical Chief Pat Symonds instructed their driver Nelson Piquet Jr. to crash on purpose.
The timing of the resulting Safety Car benefitted the team’s sister car, driven by Fernando Alonso, who would go on to win the race.
Massa, meanwhile, pitted shortly after the Safety Car period, but his stop proved disastrous. The then-Ferrari drove out of his box with his fuel hose still attached, leaving Massa waiting as his mechanics agonisingly tried to remove the hose at the end of pit lane.
The Brazillian scored no points and Hamilton’s third-place finish granted him a vital six points in the title fight, which the Brit ultimately won by a single point in a dramatic season finale.
But Renault’s scandalous acts weren’t made public until a year later when the axed Piquet Jr. went public with the team’s misdeeds.
Massa had called upon the race to be removed from the record books to help secure the 2008 title in his favour at the time, but the FIA’s International Sporting Code states that classification from each season is confirmed once the FIA Awards ceremony is completed.
But when former F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone told F1-Insider earlier this year that he and then-FIA President Max Mosley were aware of the situation “during the 2008 season” and “decided not to do anything for now,” Massa started to consider legal action.
Massa then escalated matters last month when his legal team sent the aforementioned Letter Before Claim, seeking financial compensation and bringing the title back to Brazil.
Aside from Hamilton, Massa has also called on Ferrari’s support. However, the Italian marque’s current Team Principal, Frederic Vasseur, has admitted “it would be strange” to retroactively hand the title back to the Brazillian.
With the mid-October deadline for F1 and the FIA to respond to Massa and his representatives looming, time will tell if Hamilton is likely to lose the first of his joint-record seven Drivers’ titles or if he will vocally support the decision as Viana hopes he will.