Felipe Massa has been forced to backtrack on comments he made claiming that new Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso was aware of Renault’s plans to deliberately crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.
Alonso won that race after the safety car was brought out when Renault’s No. 2 driver Nelson Piquet Jr spun out on lap 14, and Massa subsequently claimed it cost him that year’s world title as he finished one point behind champion Lewis Hamilton. Motorsport’s ruling body the FIA cleared Alonso of any wrongdoing as it banned Renault boss Flavio Briatore, who quit his role before the ruling, while Piquet was immune from prosecution in return for giving evidence. Massa told reporters in his native Brazil on Wednesday that he believed two-time world champion Alonso — who is replacing Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari next year — must have known about Renault’s race plan. “It was the team and Nelson — but Alonso was part of the problem. He knew. We cannot know it, but of course he knew. It’s an absolute certainty,” he said ahead of this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix.
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However, the 28-year-old later released a statement on the official Ferrari Web site in a bid to avoid conflict with his future teammate. “What I’ve said is the outcome of a hunch I’ve had and is not based on any concrete evidence,” Felipe said. “The FIA World Council announced that there was no indication that Fernando may have been informed of what had happened and I respect this outcome. “Obviously I’m very disappointed about what transpired last year in Singapore: I have already said several times what I thought about it and now it’s time to close that chapter and to look to the future. “What is certain is that this episode will not mar in any way the relationship I’ll have with Fernando when we will be teammates.” Massa will not be racing at his beloved Interlagos circuit this weekend as he is still recovering from serious head injuries suffered in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix in July. He has been allowed to test a 2007 Ferrari this week, but the team announced that he will not be ready to return to competitive action until next season.