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Massa’s legal team warns of UK High Court action over FIA/FOM delays

Felipe Massa’s legal team anticipates filing UK High Court action as early as next week if the FIA and FOM delay responding further to its 2008 Formula 1 title claims.

Felipe Massa

As originally reported by Autosport, Massa’s lawyers wrote to FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem and FOM CEO Stefano Domenicali earlier this month with a Letter Before Claim setting out the details of the Brazilian driver’s legal pursuit to rectify him losing the 2008 F1 world championship.

According to the document, Massa's legal team alleged the Brazilian was "the victim of a conspiracy" over the Crashgate conspiracy at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

It argued that the FIA and FOM deliberately acted to avoid a scandal over what happened in Singapore, despite being told of the cheating affair early enough to take action.

Massa’s push for legal remedy was prompted by both an interview with Bernie Ecclestone claiming that the matter was brushed under the carpet, and an archive chat with former F1 race director Charlie Whiting who revealed he was told about Nelson Piquet Jr’s deliberate Singapore crash at that year’s Brazilian GP season finale.

It was suggested that Massa losing the championship as the result of what happened in Singapore had cost him millions in income, as well as ‘moral’ and ‘reputational’ damages.

Autosport has learned that both the FIA and FOM have responded to Massa’s original letter.

But both have indicated that, in the wake of F1’s summer break period with personnel being away, it was impossible to provide a formal response to the individual claims in the short term so needed more time.

Nelson Piquet Jr., Renault F1 Team R28 crashes into the wall

Nelson Piquet Jr., Renault F1 Team R28 crashes into the wall

Photo by: Sutton Images

That stance has not gone down well with Massa’s team, who have ramped up the urgency to get answers from the FIA and FOM over the matter.

Autosport can reveal that Massa’s legal team has now replied to both the FIA and FOM and told them that it does not consider a potential three-month delay for the matter to be dealt with as “reasonable”.

The letters, which have been seen by Autosport, argue that: “Work on a response should have begun promptly upon receipt of the Letter Before Claim and summer absences should not have prevented that.”

It further states that it does not view any potential delay in dealing with Massa’s request for answers as acceptable.

Insight: How the FIA found out about Crashgate at Brazil 2008 F1 finale, but could not act

The letters goes on to state that, if a formal response is not made by next Friday (8 September), then it expects the matter to go to the UK High Court to force the answers required.

“An open-ended timeframe for a response is not consistent with the Pre Action Protocol,” added the letters. “Please provide your response by 4pm on 8 September 2023, failing which we anticipate being instructed to file claims in the UK High Court.”

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Massa’s legal team want a fast response from both the FIA and FOM because it is poised to launch legal action in other jurisdictions - but feels it better to do so only once it has got the answers to its questions from the FIA and FOM.

With the matter going legal, neither FOM or the FIA wished to make a formal comment on the situation when approached by Autosport.

An FIA spokesman said: “The FIA acknowledges receipt of correspondence from representatives of Mr. Felipe Massa. The matter is under review and we will not be providing comment at this stage.”

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