SAO PAULO // Felipe Massa backtracked from his comments that future Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso knew Nelson Piquet Jr was going to crash on purpose at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix to help the Spaniard win the race, something Alonso has strenuously denied. After telling Brazilian media on Wednesday that "without a doubt" Alonso knew of Renault's plan to have Piquet Jr crash, Massa issued a statement on Ferrari's official website saying that what he said was "the outcome of a hunch" and was not "based on any concrete evidence."
"The FIA (International Automobile Federation) World Council announced that there was no indication that Fernando may have been informed of what had happened and I respect this outcome," Massa said. The Brazilian driver, who is out for the remainder of the season as he recovers from a serious injury suffered at the Hungarian Grand Prix in July, has long complained of the incident involving Piquet Jr in Singapore.
He had said before that he believed Alonso was aware that his Renault teammate was going to crash to bring out the safety car and help him win the race. Massa had said "there is no way" Alonso did not know Piquet Jr was going to crash to benefit him, and that the FIA should strip Alonso of the win. He has also said he believes the result directly affected his own chances of claiming the drivers' championship, eventually won by Briton Lewis Hamilton by a single point ahead of Massa.
Alonso and Piquet Jr were cleared after an FIA investigation, but Renault's team principal Flavio Briatore received an indefinite ban and chief engineer Pat Symonds a five-year sanction for their role in the deliberate crash. "Obviously I'm very disappointed about what transpired last year in Singapore," Massa said. "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."
Ferrari signed double world champion Alonso to a three-year deal beginning next season. He will replace Kimi Raikkonen. "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 said. * AP