Toto Wolff has revealed Mercedes are following Felipe Massa’s legal challenge into the 2008 World Championship “with interest”, given the legal precedent it will set.
Wolff and Mercedes swiftly dropped a legal challenge into the outcome of the 2021 World Championship after the fallout surrounding the outcome of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, in which former race director Michael Masi was found to have not followed the rules correctly surrounding lapped cars overtaking the Safety Car.
Lewis Hamilton, whose 2008 title Massa is trying to claim with legal action after new comments came to light around the “Crashgate” scandal in Singapore, claimed at the time the outcome of the race was “manipulated” in favour of Max Verstappen, who overtook him on the last lap to take the title in dramatic circumstances.
Toto Wolff: Mercedes following Felipe Massa case ‘with interest’
The FIA issued a statement in the months after that race in Abu Dhabi admitting “human error” had played a part in the outcome of the race, though they maintained the results were “valid” and the decision was taken “in good faith.”
Massa’s legal team want to “bring the trophy home” from 2008, with the case prompted by former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone having said in an interview with German media that the Brazilian was “cheated” out of the title due to knowledge F1 and the FIA had over “Crashgate” that year – though Ecclestone has since claimed to not having remembered giving the interview in question.
如果考虑到法律后果Massa is eventually found to be the rightful World Champion 15 years on – even in a civil court rather than a sporting one – the Mercedes team principal and CEO revealed that he and his team are keeping a close eye on proceedings.
“Well, [it’s] interesting to follow,” Wolff told reporters in Singapore.
“Clearly, not something that anybody saw coming. The rules are pretty clear in Formula 1.
“It’s a civil case behind it. It will certainly set a precedent, whatever it is. We’re looking from the sidelines with curiosity.
“The FIA commented on the 2021 race with a clear statement, so that’s why we’re looking at it with interest.”
McLaren CEO Zak Brown was asked for his view on the incident, with Hamilton having won the 2008 title with McLaren at the time.
He revealed that the team has not yet been contacted surrounding the case, and it was the first time he has been asked about Massa’s legal proceedings.
“这是obviously well before my time; I was actually at the race,” Brown said.
“We’ve not been contacted. I’ve not been asked about it, it’s the first time I’ve been asked about it – so it doesn’t really involve today’s McLaren, so a little surprised it’s come up now.
“Not sure what’s triggered it now, but we’ll just wait and see if it develops further.”