Former F1 driver Felipe Massa sues sport over 2008 title loss. GETTY IMAGES

The Brazilian lost the championship to Lewis Hamilton by just one point in the infamous 'Crashgate' incident at the Singapore Grand Prix. It is alleged that Renault instructed Piquet to crash his car, which the former driver later admitted. He is seeking £62 million (€72 million) in compensation.

Brazilian Felipe Massa, 42, filed a lawsuit against Formula One in a London court last Monday. He is suing for the loss of the 2008 World title. He is seeking £62 million ($80 million) in compensation for what he believes was a somewhat irregular defeat. 

Massa lost the title to Lewis Hamilton by just one point. It was a season in which the sport was rocked by the 'Crashgate' scandal at the Singapore Grand Prix. On that day, Renault instructed Nelson Piquet Jr. to crash his other car in order to stage a victory for Fernando Alonso. Massa, then driving for Ferrari, was leading at the time of Piquet's crash and finished 13th, losing the championship by just one point to Hamilton. 

Piquet revealed the following season that he had been told by his bosses to crash deliberately and admitted what had happened. Massa has also taken legal action against the FIA and former president Bernie Ecclestone.

Felipe Massa retired from Formula 1 in 2017. GETTY IMAGES
Felipe Massa retired from Formula 1 in 2017. GETTY IMAGES

According to AFP, he is seeking £62 million (€72 million) in damages to reflect the difference in salary, sponsorship and commercial opportunities he would have received as world champion had the situation not occurred, which he says was crucial in losing the championship.

Ecclestone admitted last year that, under the rules, the results of the Singapore race should not have been counted in the final standings and Massa should have been declared the champion as a result. It is these statements that the Brazilian is relying on.

"Mr Massa is seeking a declaration that the FIA breached its regulations by failing to promptly investigate the crash of Nelson Piquet Junior at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix and that, had it acted correctly, Mr Massa would have won the Drivers' Championship that year," said a statement from Massa's lawyers, as quoted by AFP.

Massa has also sued Bernie Ecclestone. GETTY IMAGES
Massa has also sued Bernie Ecclestone. GETTY IMAGES

"Mr Massa also seeks compensation for the significant financial loss he has suffered as a result of the failure of the FIA, in which Mr Ecclestone and FOM (Formula One Management) were also complicit," the statement continued. This is the background to Massa's legal battle, which began last Monday and is still ongoing.

The 2008 title was Hamilton's first world championship. He has since equalled Michael Schumacher's record of seven.
He said: "If that's the direction Felipe wants to go in, that's his decision. I prefer not to focus on the past," Hamilton said when asked about the matter last September.

Massa did not win another F1 race after 2008 and suffered a near-fatal head injury at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix. He stopped competing at the highest level and returned to the sport, driving for Ferrari and then Williams until 2017.