Former F1 driver Massa gets silence at Brazilian Grand Prix amid threats of lawsuit for title

FILE - Williams driver Felipe Massa, of Brazil, attends a press conference at the Interlagos racetrack, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Nov. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Andre Penner, File)

SAO PAULO (AP) — Former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa visited the Interlagos track where the Brazilian Grand Prix will take place on Sunday, but did not get Formula One drivers or team executives to openly support his claims that he was “robbed” of the 2008 title, which he lost by one point to Lewis Hamilton.

Massa has hinted he will take the case to court if governing body FIA and Formula One Management do not make a decision regarding the Singapore Grand Prix of that year, when Nelson Piquet Jr. crashed deliberately to help his then-Renault teammate Fernando Alonso to win the race.

The Renault team was eventually punished but the results stood, giving a path for Hamilton to beat Massa to the drivers’ title. Earlier this year, former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said he learned in 2008 that the crash had been deliberate.

The 42-year-old Brazilian driver wandered around the paddock before Saturday’s sprint race, spoke to journalists and insisted he has a final deadline of Nov. 15 before taking any action against sports bodies.

“I came here as a fan. I was always passionate about autosport, about Ferrari. But this doesn't change our fight for justice,” Massa said at Interlagos. “Many drivers do support me in this, but they don't want to speak. I don't regret any of this, justice is a bigger good here.”

On Thursday, drivers Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Logan Sargeant, Charles Leclerc, and Carlos Sainz were asked during a press conference whether they support Massa's claims. The room was filled with silence. Moments later, Ferrari's Sainz said: “I don't think anything about this.”

Hamilton added he doesn't think about the issue.

The next day, Formula One management said Massa was “welcome” to the race, but even in his presence no drivers or teams executives choose to speak in his favor.

Massa said Saturday he didn't come to Interlagos in his role as an F1 ambassador. He did not attend the Italian Grand Prix in that capacity earlier this year due to a request from the organizers of the series amid the threats of lawsuits from the Brazilian.

Massa added he is unlikely to attend the first Las Vegas Grand Prix later this month because he would have to do it as an ambassador, "and that could cause problems at this moment.”

The Brazilian has an accreditation that allows him to be present at any grand prix he wishes.


AP auto racing: