In our recent interview with Felipe Massa, the retired Formula 1 driver offered a captivating glimpse into the highlights and challenges of his distinguished career. Reflecting on his debut with Ferrari, Massa delves into the thrilling title pursuit of 2007 and the controversial 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. The Brazilian driver opened up about "crashgate", detailing his quest for justice and addressing critics. Massa provides an insider's perspective on his life in the pinnacle of motorsport.
Massa's Trip Down Memory Lane: Reliving the Thrilling F1 Seasons of 2006, 2007, and 2008
Massa fondly recalled the exhilarating 2008 season, a memorable chapter where he went head-to-head with Lewis Hamilton for the championship. Reflecting further, he noted that the excitement extended beyond 2008 to include the remarkable championship years of 2006 and 2007.
In 2006, Massa embarked on his debut year driving for Ferrari, experiencing a strong sense of competitiveness in their battle against Renault. The intensity of the competition persisted until the very last race of the season.
Delving into the events of 2007, Massa elaborated on the gripping championship battle between Ferrari and McLaren. Leading the charge for the Scuderia alongside Kimi Räikkönen, they faced strong opponents in Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. Massa highlighted the exciting prospect of securing the 2007 title, but a stroke of bad luck led to his designation as the number two driver within Ferrari during that crucial period.
Singapore 2008 (Crashgate): The Manipulation That Shook Formula 1
Massa also shared his thoughts on the controversial 2008 Singapore Grand Prix (crashgate), where Nelson Piquet Jr.'s deliberate crash led to Fernando Alonso's victory. He admitted that the race appeared suspicious, but at the time, they lacked concrete proof of manipulation. He stressed his respect for the rules and the need for a fair playing field in Formula 1. Massa revealed that he had questioned Flavio Briatore and Piquet Jr. himself about the incident. Although their answers seemed unconvincing, it wasn't until months later that Piquet Jr. admitted to the orchestrated crash, exposing the scandal.
Fighting for Justice: Massa's Fight to Reclaim the 2008 Championship
Massa spoke about his decision to assemble a team of lawyers to address the misconduct surrounding the 2008 Formula 1 Championship. He explained that after 15 years he felt compelled to seek justice. His 13-year-old son even encouraged him to fight for what was right, asserting that he was the true champion. Massa expressed his dissatisfaction with the way the situation had been handled, stating, “You have the biggest manipulation case, and nothing happened” and believes it is necessary to rectify the injustice that had cost him the title.
Addressing Critics: Singapore 2008 Was Just One Race
Massa addressed critics who argued that Singapore was just one race and that Lewis Hamilton was the better driver throughout the 2008 season. He stressed the importance of understanding the full context of the season and the competitive nature of Formula 1. Massa mentioned that he had won more races and pole positions than Hamilton that season. While mistakes and reliability issues are part of the sport, the manipulation in Singapore was entirely different and not a part of Formula 1.
Unlocking Conversations for Title Challenges
Manipulation has been a recurring topic in Formula 1 discussions, with the most recent controversy surrounding the title fight between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in 2021. Massa discussed whether his actions might open up conversations for other drivers to challenge titles won unfairly. He distinguished between his situation, which had been investigated and proven to be manipulation, and the incidents in 2021 that raised questions about race director decisions. Massa clarified, “It's completely two different things, and my case was investigated. My case came out that it was the biggest manipulation in Formula 1 in one race.” Emphasizing the importance of clarity and proof in such cases, he highlighted the discrepancies between his case and the 2021 incident, emphasizing that they represented entirely different situations.
2009 Hungarian Grand Prix: Overcoming a Severe Crash
Massa reflected on the challenging experience of returning to the sport after a serious crash during the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix. He mentioned the physical and mental difficulties he faced during recovery, especially having to wait before returning to the track. “I think mentally was a lot more tough, more difficult than physically,” he remarked. Despite the adversity, he never considered it the conclusion of his career; instead, he maintained optimism and was determined to return to the cockpit of a Formula 1 car.
In this captivating journey through his Formula 1 career, Felipe Massa shares highs and lows, including the notorious 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. Massa's quest for justice, following the "crashgate" scandal, highlights the importance of integrity in the sport. Addressing critics, he emphasizes the broader context of the 2008 season, challenging the notion that Singapore was “just one race.” Massa's resilience stands as a testament to the core principles that form the foundation of Formula 1.