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Formula 1 Italian GP

Massa skips Italian GP amid legal process over 2008 F1 title

Felipe Massa will not attend grands prix as a Formula 1 ambassador while his legal process involving the 2008 world championship is ongoing.

Felipe Massa on the grid

Massa is one of several former drivers employed by the F1 organisation in ambassadorial roles, with the job involving attending a certain number of races per season in logoed shirts and undertaking tasks such as meet and greets in the Paddock Club.

Others to have similar arrangements are Mika Hakkinen, Jacques Villeneuve and David Coulthard.

However, matters became complicated after Massa started a legal process against F1 and the FIA related to the 2008 world championship and the impact of the Singapore GP 'Crashgate' affair on the outcome.

As a former Ferrari driver and local favourite, Massa was due to attend this weekend's Italian GP at Monza under his usual arrangement, with travel and hotel expenses taken care of by F1.

However, a source has confirmed that a conversation took place during which it was mutually agreed that being at a race as an F1 ambassador was not appropriate in the current circumstances, although it was also made clear that he can continue to come to any race as a private individual.

It's understood that Massa himself may have recognised that his presence would inevitably trigger media interest that would have made it hard for him to move around the paddock.

Felipe Massa

Felipe Massa

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz / Motorsport Images

Massa lost 2008 the title to Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of his home race in Brazil.

But Nelson Piquet Jr's crash at the Singapore Grand Prix had a crucial impact on his season as he dropped out of the points following a chaotic pitstop that saw him drag the fuel hose from his garage.

Earlier this year, former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone indicated that the Piquet saga was known within F1 and FIA circles before the end of the season, and an archive interview with the late FIA race director Charlie Whiting also emerged backed up that timing.

Last month, Massa's lawyers wrote to FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem and FOM CEO Stefano Domenicali with a Letter Before Claim, stating that he was the "victim of a conspiracy".

They suggested that Massa had lost millions in income, as well as suffering "moral" and "reputational" damages, as a result of the Singapore affair.

The nature of the conversation between Massa and F1 is unclear though with the Brazilian stating he was specifically asked to stay away from the Italian GP.

A spokesperson for the former F1 driver said: “Massa had already bought a flight ticket and received a call from the high-ranking of Formula 1 on Monday, asking him not to go to Monza.”

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