Lewis Hamilton unbothered by Felipe Massa’s lawsuit, focused on regaining winning feeling in Singapore

SINGAPORE – Lewis Hamilton on Thursday distanced himself from the lawsuit launched by Felipe Massa over the alleged “conspiracy” that the Brazilian claims denied him the 2008 Formula One title.

The Briton, then with McLaren, went on to claim the world championship that year – his first before adding another six with current team Mercedes – beating Massa by a single point.

Speaking to multiple media outlets at the Singapore Grand Prix, Hamilton, 38, said: “If that’s the direction that Felipe wants to go, that’s his decision. I prefer not to focus on the past. Whether it’s 15 years ago, two years ago, or three days ago. I’m only interested in the present and my focus is on helping my team this week.”

The 2008 edition of the Singapore event, which was the inaugural night race, became notorious after Renault driver Nelson Piquet Junior revealed in 2009 that he had been told by team bosses to crash deliberately at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

Massa, who retired in 2017, was leading the race for Ferrari but the crash triggered a safety car that benefited Piquet’s double world champion teammate Fernando Alonso, who went on to claim the chequered flag.

Massa failed to score a point after a horror pit stop – he left the pit box with his fuel hose still attached. He has since claimed that the race should have been cancelled because the sport’s leaders allegedly knew before the end of the 2008 season what had happened but covered it up.

The 42-year-old Massa’s lawyers on Tuesday sent preservation notices to Ferrari and ex-Renault team officials ahead of potential court action.

His legal team have also urged Hamilton, an honorary Brazilian citizen, to assist their case.

The seven-time world champion was asked in two separate TV interviews about his plans regarding Massa’s lawsuit but declined to elaborate, stressing that his priority is this weekend’s Grand Prix.

He has won in the Republic four times, one shy of Sebastian Vettel’s record, but was adamant such history will count for little given Red Bull’s dominance this term. The Milton Keynes-based outfit have won all 14 races this season while Sergio Perez is the defending champion in Singapore.

Hamilton added: “I expect them to be very fast here. It’s not a track that we (Mercedes) have done that well in recent years, even if I’ve had some success here, but I’m still hopeful. We just need to maximise every session and work together as a team.”

While many have cited the Singapore race, which regularly reaches the two-hour race limit, as the sport’s most physically demanding, Hamilton played down such hyperbole. He said: “It is tough, but so are a lot of other tracks. To me, it’s mentally draining more than anything. You cannot let your concentration slip.”

He cited his 2018 pole and subsequent victory in Singapore as a source of inspiration and noted: “I’m yearning for that feeling again, that special balance with the car.”

His teammate George Russell, who finished 14th in the 2022 race here, was also cautiously optimistic. He said at Thursday’s press conference: “We’ve made some good gains this season. It’s clear we made some mistakes ahead of the 2022 season and again over the winter, but these mistakes have also taught us a lot.

“You need these setbacks, these errors to set you on the right path. As a team, we’re incredibly motivated to get back to the top.”


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