Ecclestone’s bizarre “crashgate” confession: Hamilton “lucky” to win title

Lewis Hamilton’s ambition to claim an all-time record eighth F1 championship has been hit by an unexpected claim from Bernie Ecclestone about his first title being "lucky".
- Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 race winner with Bernie Ecclestone (GBR), President and CEO of Formula
- Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 race winner with…

The Mercedes driver enters the 2023 season, aged 38, hoping to improve upon the joint-record of seven titles that he shares with Michael Schumacher.

His first title, as a McLaren driver in 2008, has now been referenced by Ecclestone who insists Hamilton should still be a six-time champion.

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Hamilton won the 2008 title after the ‘crashgate’ scandal - where Nelson Piquet Jr crashed on purpose to help Renault teammate Fernando Alonso win the race. Felipe Massa, Hamilton’s title rival, was unable to score enough points as a result of the crash.

Ex-F1 supremo Ecclestone, 92, has now told F1 Insider: "Max Mosley [then FIA president] and I was informed during the 2008 season about what had happened in the race in Singapore. Piquet Jr. had told his father Nelson that he had been asked by the team to deliberately drive into the wall at one point in order to trigger a safety car period and thus help his team-mate Alonso.

"Piquet Jr was afraid for his contract extension, so he was under a lot of pressure and agreed.

“We decided not to do anything for the time being. We wanted to protect the sport and protect it from a huge scandal. 

“That's why I persuaded my former pilot Nelson Piquet to keep calm for the time being.

"At that time there was the rule that a World Championship classification after the FIA award ceremony at the end of the year is untouchable. So Hamilton was presented with the championship trophy and everything was fine."

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-23 Gets Pole Position, Chinese F1 Grand Prix, Shanghai, 17th-19th October
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-23 Gets Pole Position, Chinese F1 Grand…

‘Crashgate’ was only proven a year after the incident itself.

But Ecclestone admits: "We had enough information in time to investigate the matter. According to the statutes, however, we would probably have had to cancel the race in Singapore under these conditions. That is, for the championship standings, it would never have happened. 

“Then Felipe Massa would have become world champion and not Lewis Hamilton.

"I still feel sorry for Massa today. He won the final at his home race in Sao Paulo and did everything right. He was cheated out of the deserved title, while Hamilton had all the luck in the world and won his first championship. 

“Today I would have arranged it differently. That's why Michael Schumacher is still the sole record world champion for me. Even if the statistics say otherwise."

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