The 2008 Formula 1 championship: a never-ending story
Lately, rumors suggest that former Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa wants to try to “win back” the 2008 world championship through legal ways after new information released by Bernie Ecclestone was released.
Throwback to 2008
To better understand what is going on and why a driver wants to change a championship result after 15 years, let's take a look at what happened almost two decades ago.
A throwback to the 2008 Formula 1 season, Ferrari and McLaren were animating the whole paddock with their incredible battles on and off the track to get the better of each other and secure the title. After a long, hard-fought battle that lasted the entire season, Massa won the last race in Brazil and became champion for Ferrari. However, that feeling lasted just a few seconds, as Lewis Hamilton overtook Timo Glock on the last corner and gained enough points to finish ahead of the Ferrari driver in the standings by just one point.
However, that championship wasn't just about Ferrari and McLaren. It was somewhat stained by another team on the grid: Renault. That year, the French outfit won two races, one in Singapore and one in Japan. It was the former which raised a lot of controversies up to this day.
To put it simply, during the race, Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jr. was told to deliberately crash into the wall to give his teammate Fernando Alonso a huge advantage, which helped the Spaniard win the race. This unsportsmanlike event, later named Crashgate, caused a lot of controversies and risked damaging the sport.
Renault also had to face harsh consequences, namely being disqualified from the Formula 1 championship for two years. Plus, other sanctions were given to team principal Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds, too.
Despite what happened, this story didn't come out until the end of the 2008 championship, when the FIA prize-giving ceremony had already taken place. This meant that even though Massa and the Scuderia wanted to lodge a protest to cancel the race to win the title back, they couldn't change the outcome. Had the race been canceled, Massa would've finished first in the standings by 5 points.
Why's that? It's simple: the FIA rules state that after the prize-giving ceremony, the final results of that season cannot be changed. Therefore, there was nothing Massa could do to become a world champion.
A turn of events
However, 15 years later, new declarations released by Bernie Ecclestone, who was the Formula 1 CEO at the time of the facts, might change everything and re-open the 2008 world championship contention. Ecclestone said that the Singapore GP of that year had to be canceled due to the infamous Crashgate episode. He also added that Max Mosley and himself already knew about the Crashgate situation even before the FIA prize-giving ceremony, but decided not to say anything since they didn't want to put the sport in a bad spot. By doing so, however, they probably put Formula 1 in an even worse position.
Thanks to this new information, Massa now wants to try to “win back” the 2008 title through legal ways, even though it's going to be extremely tough for him to receive a positive outcome.
It's unlikely that the final standings will be revised since the FIA could only change the results of the race 14 days after it or 4 days before the FIA prize-giving ceremony. Not only that, if Massa decides to appeal the decisions taken back in 2008, all the personnel of that season should have to agree on that, something which is very unlikely to happen. Moreover, there's another rule that states that every driver must follow the FIA rules, which means accepting all the decisions and consequences – correct or not – made by the FIA. This, of course, makes things even more difficult for the Brazilian.
Whether the Formula 1 2008 championship will be decided 15 years later or the results will remain unchanged, we still don't know. However, Massa seems convinced in trying to get back something he feels he deserves, also because he felt disrespected after Ecclestone's declaration. Thus, the 2008 season still lives on, and the story is not finished yet.