16 August 2010
Piquet admits: Massa still blames me for loss of 2008 crown
Having left F1 with his tail between his legs in the wake of the 'Singapore-gate' race-fixing scandal, Nelsinho Piquet admits countryman Felipe Massa has still not forgiven him for the incident the Ferrari star believes cost him the 2008 world championship crown
Nelsinho Piquet has revealed that countryman Felipe Massa has still not forgiven him for the events of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix – a race that has gone down in history as one of the worst and most dangerous examples of cheating in sporting memory, and one that the Ferrari star maintains to his day cost him that year's F1 World Championship crown.
In a nail-biting Brazilian Grand Prix finale two years ago, Massa won and then lost the title in the dying seconds of the race, crossing the line victorious only for arch-rival Lewis Hamilton to snatch fifth place from Toyota's Timo Glock barely two corners from the end and with it steal away the coveted trophy by a single point, to the agony of the Paulista's throngs of partisan supporters in the grandstands.
However, Massa has always contended that it was not Interlagos but rather Singapore that cost him the ultimate prize. The scandalous fall-out from Piquet's deliberate, 'race-fixing' crash around the Marina Bay Street Circuit – orchestrated by disgraced ex-Renault F1 managing director Flavio Briatore and the Enstone-based outfit's former executive director of engineering Pat Symonds in order to enable team-mate Fernando Alonso to triumph – has been well-documented, and through no fault of his own, Massa arguably paid a hefty price.
The 29-year-old was in control of the race when Piquet had his coming together with the Turn 17 wall, bringing out the safety car and sending the entire field dashing for the pit-lane to refuel – but in the frantic rush to preserve position at the head of the field, Ferrari fumbled the stop, causing Massa to accelerate away again with his fuel hose still attached.
He went on to take the chequered flag a lowly, point-less and perhaps appropriately luckless 13th, with Hamilton notching up six points for third – and almost two years on, Piquet says his elder compatriot still holds him responsible for the subsequent loss of the title.
“I got along well with him (Massa) and with Rubens Barrichello,” the 25-year-old NASCAR convert told Brazilian magazine Istoe. “Both always treated me very well and gave me tips on-track as I knew less [than them]. We sat together in the drivers' meetings.
“After Singapore it changed a lot. Massa was very upset with me because he thinks, to this day, that he lost the 2008 Championship because of me. It is no use arguing that he had a DNF in Hungary, that he and Ferrari made mistakes – not to mention his lack of luck.
“For the love of God, that last lap at Interlagos was pure luck for Hamilton and bad luck for him, but he is still very upset. I understand, but I don't suffer much with it anymore. I have never talked to him again. We stumble upon each other every now and then, but we don't keep in touch.”
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