Former Formula 1 driver files lawsuit 16 years after 'Crashgate'

Felipe Massa is finally taking legal action against Formula 1, the FIA, and Bernie Ecclestone for losing the championship in 2008 due to a purposeful crash by Nelson Piquet Jr. in Singapore.
Felipe Massa, Formula 1
Felipe Massa, Formula 1 / Rudy Carezzevoli/GettyImages

Despite it being more than a decade and a half since the controversial incident known as "Crashgate" occurred during the 2008 Singapore Grand prix, Felipe Massa is finally suing those he believes are responsible for him losing the 2008 Formula 1 world championship by one point.

Massa is seeking approximately $82 million in an attempt to make up for all of the damages he endured from the incident. Even though there was speculation of Lewis Hamilton’s championship being revoked, those rumors were quashed as the situation was looked into further.

However, the controversy behind the situation was the fact that Bernie Ecclestone and then-FIA president Max Mosley were well aware of the protocols breached and the sufficient evidence that was present.

What could have been done?

Considering the FIA did not investigate the situation until after the 2008 season ended, it was difficult to take some sort of action in an effort to resolve the controversy. However, with the results of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix being sanctioned, the results were irreversible.

Had Ecclestone and the FIA immediately investigated the incident before the season had ended, the results of the race could have been voided or altered accordingly. As such, Massa would have been the rightful world champion of the 2008 Formula 1 season.

Those at the top of the FIA and Formula 1 have held a worrying amount of power, so much that they have the ability to make decisions which can change the sport. Some may see this as an executive overreach in which one man can make such monumental decisions.

That level of power has been exerted in a controversial manner in the recent past as well, as seen during the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix when race director Michael Masi ultimately decided how the restart would occur once the track was clear and the safety car period ended.

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Massa has every right to seek compensation for what he lost, but the bigger issue here is how the power to direct Formula 1 lies in the hands of just a few. This could be fixed if such actions were regulated and had some sort of oversight. It is something to explore going forward, as no one wants to see any kind of incident similar to what Massa endured 16 years ago.