Lewis Hamilton rocked as Felipe Massa files $120 million lawsuit against Formula One

Former Formula One driver Felipe Massa has filed a lawsuit against the sport, claiming he is the rightful winner in 2008.

Lewis Hamilton’s 2008 world title has been legally challenged by Felipe Massa. The former Ferrari driver claims he lost $120 million in earnings after unjustly missing out on being crowned world champion.

On Monday, Massa filed a lawsuit against the sport, its governing body the FIA, and former Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone in London's High Court. The 42-year-old believes he is the rightful winner of the 2008 title, claiming he was robbed of the honour following the 'Crashgate' scandal at that year's Singapore Grand Prix. In one of the most controversial moments in F1 history, Renault staged a win for Fernando Alonso by ordering Nelson Piquet Jr to crash in the other car.

Pictured left Lewis Hamilton and right Felipe Massa
Felipe Massa has filed a lawsuit against the sport claiming he is the rightful winner of the 2008 title he lost to Lewis Hamilton following the 'Crashgate' scandal at that year's Singapore Grand Prix. Image: Getty

AAs a result of the crash, a safety car was brought in, squandering Massa's lead and giving Alonso a clear advantage as he was the only driver who had already made a pit stop to refuel. Massa went on to finish out of the points in 13th after a horror pit stop in which he drove away while the fuel hose was still attached to his car.

The following year Piquet revealed that he was under instruction by his bosses to deliberately crash. The Renault team was eventually punished but the result stood. The race was a defining moment in the 2008 title race, with Massa ending up losing to Hamilton by just one point.

Felipe Massa argues F1 breached its own regulations

Massa's legal filing has come about after Ecclestone - who led the F1 for four decades before he was deposed in 2017 - revealed in 2023 that the sport's executives were aware of the cover-up before the 2008 campaign had finished. As a result, lawyers acting on Massa's behalf want the FIA to acknowledge it "breached its regulations by failing to promptly investigate" Piquet's crash. They are also seeking compensation for the former Ferrari driver.

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 02:  Felipe Massa of Brazil and Ferrari looks disappointed on the podium after winning the race but losing the World Championship at the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Interlagos Circuit on November 2, 2008 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images)
Felipe Massa lost the 2008 drivers' title to Lewis Hamilton by just one point. Image: Getty

Monday's statement from Brazilian law firm Vieira Rezende Advogados read: "On March 11, 2024, Felipe Massa filed a lawsuit in the High Court in London, England against Formula One Management Limited (FOM), Bernard Charles Ecclestone and the Federation Internationale de L'Automobile (FIA).

"Mr Massa is seeking declarations that the FIA breached its regulations by failing to promptly investigate Nelson Piquet Junior's crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, and that had it acted properly, Mr Massa would have won the drivers' championship that year."

Felipe Massa seeks damages for lost prize money and sponsorship deals

A document obtained by The Associated Press showed Massa is seeking up to $120 million in damages. That figure is an approximation of the amount he believes he lost from prize money and potential deals that he would have obtained as an F1 champion.


Hamilton - who won the first of his record-equalling seven titles in 2008 - following the revelation from Eccleston said last September: "If that's the direction that Felipe wants to go, that's his decision. I prefer not to focus on the past." Ecclestone, 93, told the PA news agency on Monday: "If he had asked me, I would have said it was the complete right thing to do, to sue, and to let an English judge decide what is right and wrong."

An FIA spokesperson told PA: "We will not be providing any comment on the matter." F1 has also declined to comment on the matter.

with AAP

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