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Motor Racing

Crashgate cost me the drivers' title, says Massa

The Ferrari driver Felipe Massa said yesterday that Renault's cheating tactics which won Fernando Alonso last year's Singapore Grand Prix cost him the 2008 title.

In an interview with Globoesporte.com, the 28-year-old Brazilian, who is recovering from the head injury that he sustained during qualifying for the Hungarian GP in July, said that without "Crashgate" Lewis Hamilton would not have beaten him by a point.

"I was very upset with everything that happened," Massa said. "Not only with what Renault did, which was theft. It created a lot of things, and the safety car with Nelson Piquet meant that most of the cars had to go the pits, and I was one of them. We had 10 cars going in. My stop went wrong. There were too many of us at the same time. A mechanic pressed a button in a situation that would never have happened in a normal pit stop. That's why it bothers me, that Renault stole the win.

"The result remains the same," Massa continued, alluding to Alonso's tarnished victory. "This is not right. For me it should have been changed. I lost the title by one point. But I am not and never will be a driver who thinks, 'I could have been world champion'. Even if they write today in my CV that I am the champion, after a year, I don't think it would make any difference. There comes a time when there is nothing that can be done. It is the rule, and the FIA decide."

The leader in this year's title race, Jenson Button, insisted that he had been misquoted when he said he would not be trying to clinch the title in the Japanese GP here this weekend. He needs to finish five points ahead of his Brawn team-mate, Rubens Barrichello, to be sure of the crown. Even if he then failed to score and Barrichello were to win the remaining two races, and they thus tied on points, he would take the title on the basis of six wins to four.

"I never said that I don't want to win this race," he said. "I go to every one wanting to win. People get confused. I want to win Suzuka for sure, I have a lot of connections, past and present, with Japan and for sure I want to win here this weekend. But I most want to do what I need to do to win the championship.

"I'm looking forward to the weekend because it's a great circuit," Button added in reference to Suzuka, which has been absent from the Formula One race calendar for two years. "I've missed it a lot. It possibly is my favourite circuit."