Nelson Piquet Jr has revealed that, because of his actions at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, Felipe Massa still blames him to this day for losing the 2008 Driver’s Championship. Felipe lost the title by a single point to Lewis Hamilton, and lost 10 points in the Singapore Grand Prix, after a mistake in the pit lane, which was caused by a safety car deployment, which in turn had been caused by Piquet Jr.
If it was a mistake by Piquet that had brought out the safety car, then nothing would have been said of it. But as we all know, Nelson deliberately crashed his Renault, specifically to bring out the safety car to help his team-mate Fernando Alonso win the race.
The problem with Massa’s pit stop had been caused by the Ferrari traffic lights operator releasing Massa too early, causing the fuel rig to be ripped out and was still attached to the car as Felipe left the pits. It has been well acknowledged that this mistake by the light operator was caused by the chaotic nature of the pit lane, which of course was triggered by the safety car.
In my mind, despite other losses of points in other races that year, Massa deserves to blame Piquet for what he did. Nelson, however, seems surprised, in an interview with Portugese magazine Istoe (translation has been verified):
“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 in Interlagos was pure luck for
(Lewis) Hamilton (who was the champion) and bad luck to him.
But he is still very upset. I have never talked to him again.
We stumble upon each other every now and then, but we don’t
keep on touch.”
He did not remain on the defense, however, as he soon went on the attack, as he criticised Massa for his actions at the German Grand Prix this year:
"Generally you’d want to make such arrangements in a subtle
manner. At the end of the straight, a driver breaks a little
early into a corner, let the team mate close the gap and
overtake. Alright, with the fight for the first place it is
harder to make it subtle, but it didn’t have to be so blatant.
There is where Massa surprised me.
He wanted to expose Ferrari’s team game to cause a bit of a
mess. Because the situation itself is normal. The most common
code is the one Ferrari uses, that your team mate is faster
than you. Massa understood, but wanted to make sure that, if
it was for him, there would be no overtaking.
Ferrari will never miss the opportunity to let one of its
drivers close the gap to the championship leaders. If Massa
does not want that to happen, he needs to accept he is slower
and race faster. He needs to work to get faster than Alonso.
There’s no other way."
I’m particularly interested at the part where he says: “Generally you’d want to make such arrangements in a subtle manner.” Well he would certainly know about it wouldn’t he? I can understand his comments on the German Grand Prix debacle, but when it comes to the Crash-gate saga again, I don’t even want him to open his mouth.
For those of you who are interested, Piquet has been racing this year in the, erm, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (a world series held entirely in America, I should note). He has competed in 4 races out of 15, and finished in the top 10 3 times. Before you think that’s impressive, it’s only pickup trucks he’s been racing.