Wolff doubts the strength of Massa’s case for the 2008 F1 title and has indeed gone as far as belittling the Brazilian’s court case publically to an international news agency.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes that Felipe Massa could cause quite a stir in Formula 1 if the Brazilian – who has taken legal action over an alleged ‘conspiracy’ that he believes cost him the title in the 2008 Formula 1 season – were to win his case in court, but the Austrian has doubts about the strength of the case.
In the annals of Formula One history, the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix stands out as an unforgettable chapter. This night race marked a historic moment as the first Formula One event to be held under the blinding lights of a tight street circuit, where unforgiving barriers and walls awaited any errant driver. Little did the racing world know that this race would become a crucible of controversy, surprise and shattered dreams.
Crash that changed the course of the race
Amidst the anticipation of Formula One’s first night race, the inevitability of a Safety Car period due to a crash seemed almost predestined. On lap 14, Nelson Piquet Jr’s Renault fulfilled that expectation, sending shockwaves through the paddock. However, the timing of the crash was to prove surprisingly fortuitous.
Fernando Alonso, Piquet’s team-mate, had just made an early pit stop, putting him at the front of the pack after all the other drivers had completed their pit stops. When the safety car came out, it played right into Alonso’s hands. The pits became a hive of activity as the drivers made their mandatory stops, and by the end of the pit stops under the safety car, it was Nico Rosberg in the lead for Williams, followed by Jarno Trulli’s Toyota, Giancarlo Fisichella’s Force India, Robert Kubica’s BMW-Sauber and Alonso himself.
Unfolding drama under the night sky
This pivotal moment in the race was further complicated by penalties. Both Rosberg and Kubica were penalised for entering the pitlane when it was closed, while Trulli and Fisichella were on one-stop strategies. When they finally pitted, Alonso took the lead, a position he would hold for the remainder of the race. Renault secured their first win of the season, despite having to navigate another safety car period triggered by Adrian Sutil’s Force India hitting the unforgiving barriers.
While the drama of the Crashgate scandal would dominate memories of that fateful evening, the race was also marked by a significant failure for Ferrari’s Felipe Massa.
Massa’s heartbreak and Hamilton’s 2008 triumph
Felipe Massa went into the race hoping to snatch the title from his McLaren rival Lewis Hamilton. Massa had proved his mettle throughout the weekend, securing pole position with an impressive 0.6-second lead over Hamilton.
In the early stages of the race, Massa was in control, seemingly on course for a victory that would have wiped out Hamilton’s last-minute heroics in Brazil. However, the safety car period brought about by Piquet Jr’s crash would dramatically alter the course of Massa’s championship aspirations.
As Massa left the pits during the safety car period, the unthinkable happened. His Ferrari was still attached to the refuelling hose, a mishap that knocked over his mechanics and caused a cascade of fuel spillage down the pitlane. By the time Massa was given the all-clear to leave the pits, the damage had been done. A subsequent penalty for unsafe release compounded his woes.
Ultimately, Massa would finish the race well out of the points, his title dreams crumbling. Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton’s third place behind Alonso and Rosberg secured him six invaluable championship points on his way to his first drivers’ title.
Fast forward to 2023
Felipe Massa, now 42, has pledged to “fight to the bitter end” to be named 2008 world champion, the Brazilian believing he was the victim of a conspiracy when he was leading at the Singapore Grand Prix that season and his Brazilian compatriot Nelson Piquet deliberately sent his Renault into the wall on lap 14 of the 61-lap race (the infamous Singapore crashgate).
The accident triggered a safety car which benefited Nelson Piquet’s team-mate Fernando Alonso, who went on to win, while Felipe Massa failed to score a single point after a botched pit stop.
Fifteen years later, Felipe Massa claims that 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, while at the end of the season it was former McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton who finally clinched the world title in Brazil by a single point ahead of Felipe Massa.
Toto Wolff belittles Massa’s court action
Although Wolff has already admitted that a potential victory for Felipe Massa would set a dangerous precedent in the sport, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff doubts that the former Ferrari driver’s lawyers have a strong enough case in the matter and seems to think the whole affair is nothing more than a drama that could be watched on day time TV.
“I don’t think he has anything, to be honest,” said Toto Wolff last weekend in Singapore, quoted by Reuters news agency.
“We subscribe to very clear sporting regulations, and you commit to them as a licensee.”
“If everyone opened the door to situations like this, it would be a mess in the sport and especially when you look at the championships as a whole.”
“There are so many things that have an influence on whether you win or lose that I don’t see the argument to be honest.”
“For me, it’s a bit like watching a Telenovela or a TV soap opera unfolding in front of us,” added the Mercedes boss.
One outstanding comeback drive from Kimi Raikkonen 🤩
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 20, 2023
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