Formula 1 Racing

Is Massa’s demand for ‘justice’ over Crashgate right? · RaceFans

Nelson Piquet Jnr, Renault., Singapore, 2008

Felipe Massa has kicked up a storm by questioning the FIA’s handling of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver wants to know why Formula 1’s governing body did not take action sooner over the infamous race. It was won by Fernando Alonso after his Renault team mate Nelson Piquet Jnr deliberately crashed in order to cause a Safety Car period which would benefit the team’s other car.

“The right situation is to cancel the result of that race,” Massa has said. “It is the only justice that can be done in a case like this.”

While Renault’s plan worked, it had disastrous consequences for Massa. He was leading the race but headed for the pits when Piquet crashed. There a botched refuelling pit stop by his Ferrari crew not only cost him a chance of victory, but ensured he ended the day point-less.

Nelson Piquet Jnr, Renault., Singapore, 2008
Feature: Crashgate – The 2008 Singapore Grand prix controversy explained

That had significant implications for the championship outcome. Lewis Hamilton won the title by two points having scored six in Singapore. He ran second behind Massa before Piquet’s crash, and finished third.

Massa believes the FIA should have cancelled the result of the race entirely once it became known Renault had contrived a deliberate crash to win. Is he right? Should the FIA have handled this notorious case different – and if so, how?

The FIA World Motor Sport Council ruled on the ‘Crashgate’ controversy almost a year after it happened. They did not alter the result of the race, as by then the championship had long since concluded and the prizes awarded.

Massa is seeking to discover whether the FIA had the opportunity to expose the conspiracy before the formal end of the 2008 season, and therefore could have handled it differently and potentially issue a decision which could have altered the outcome of the world championship.

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The WMSC called Renault’s actions a breach of “unparalleled severity”. It imposed a series of penalties on the team and the staff members directly involved in ‘Crashgate’. Team principal Flavio Briatore was given an unlimited ban from participation in the championship (which he later succeeded in overturning) and technical director Pat Symonds was banned for five years. The team was also told it would be permanently disqualified from the championship if it committed a comparable breach before the end of 2011.

But the result of the disputed race stood. If the FIA had the opportunity…

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