Former F1 race director Michael Masi has opened up about the disgraceful abuse he received in the wake of last season’s title decider in Abu Dhabi.
Masi’s bungled handling of a late-race safety allowed Max Verstappen to have a run at Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the race. On much fresher tyres, the Red Bull driver was able to dramatically pass Lewis Hamilton and pinch the title from the Mercedes man, who had dominated the race up to that point.
Masi was widely condemned for not following usual safety car rules and was eventually relieved of his position as F1 race director by the sport’s governing body, the FIA, who offered him another role within the organisation. However, it was confirmed recently that Masi has severed all ties with the FIA and returned to his native Australia to spend more time with his family.
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And giving his first public interview since the Abu Dhabi controversy, he has spoken about the abuse he received and the effect it has had on him.
“I felt like I was the most hated man in the world,” he told News Corp. “I got death threats, people saying they were going to come after me and my family. [The messages] were shocking. Racist, abusive, vile, they called me every name under the sun.
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“And they kept on coming. Not just on my Facebook but also on my LinkedIn, which is supposed to be a professional platform for business. It was the same type of abuse.”
Masi admitted the mental toll meant left him with “no desire” to talk to family or friends.
“I just wanted to be alone, which was very challenging,” he said but added the experience had “made me a much stronger person”.
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