Massa's legal team seeks Hamilton's support in 2008 title bid

Felipe Massa
Massa, who retired in 2017, was leading in Singapore when fellow-Brazilian Piquet crashed his Renault into the wall on lap 14 of the 61-lap race. File photo: AFP/Mauro Pimentel

Sao Paulo: The legal team advising Felipe Massa in his attempt to be declared 2008 Formula One world champion hope Lewis Hamilton will support the case in the name of sporting integrity, one of the Brazilian's lawyers has said.

Bernardo Viana also told Reuters the lawyers had agreed to give Formula One and the sport's governing body, the FIA, until mid-October to respond to a Letter Before Claim sent to them on August 15. The legal team had initially set a Friday deadline.

"The ball is on their court, we've been waiting for their response," said Viana, a partner at law firm Vieira Rezende Advogados. "They asked for more time, until mid-October, and in good faith we have agreed to that."

Former Ferrari driver Massa, now 42, started his legal action over an alleged "conspiracy" that he says denied him the title, and has vowed to "fight to the end" to be named world champion.

Britain's seven-time world champion Hamilton won that title, his first, by a single point in a year that became notorious after Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jr revealed in 2009 he had been told by team bosses to crash deliberately at the Singapore Grand Prix.

Massa, who retired in 2017, was leading in Singapore when fellow-Brazilian Piquet crashed his Renault into the wall on lap 14 of the 61-lap race.

The crash triggered a safety car that benefited his teammate Fernando Alonso, who went on to win while Massa failed to score after a bungled pitstop.

Massa now claims the race should have been cancelled because the sport's leaders knew before the end of the season what had happened but covered it up.

His lawyers want Hamilton, who was racing for McLaren at the time to support the claims.

"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 said.

"We have absolutely nothing against Hamilton."

The Briton, who now drives for Mercedes, has said he was not focused on something that happened 15 years ago.

Massa sought legal advice after former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone told a German website in March that he and former FIA president Max Mosley had been aware in 2008 that Piquet crashed deliberately.

Mosley, who worked closely with Ecclestone, died in 2021 while FIA race director Charlie Whiting, another key figure, died in 2019.

Despite that, Viana said Massa's legal team were confident they had a strong case and enough evidence to bring the Brazilian the championship.

They are ready to fight for as long as it takes, Viana said, adding the case involves not only Britain but "several jurisdictions".

Massa's advisors also include sports law barrister Nick de Marco, who said in a written statement to Reuters his case "raises a number of very important and interesting legal issues as well as fundamental matters of sporting integrity."

"I am sure it will be of great interest not only to all motorsports' fans, but to anyone with an interest in the fairness of sports' competitions," he added.

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