Masi received death threats after Abu Dhabi decision

Masi replaced as Formula 1 race director

Michael Masi with Alfa Romeo Sauber’s Fred Vasseur

Former Formula 1 race director Michael Masi has revealed the backlash he received in the wake of last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Masi proved a controversial figure at the back end of the 2021 season, with his handling of a late-race Safety Car in Yas Marina a key point in the title fight.

He was removed from the role as race director and has since left the FIA, returning to Australia as he assesses his next challenge.

“There were some dark days,” he said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.

“And absolutely, I felt like I was the most hared man in the world. I got death threats. People saying, they were going to come after me and my family.

“I still remember walked down the street in London a day or two later. I thought I was okay until I started looking over my shoulder. I was looking at people wondering if they were going to get me.”

Masi went to ground in the wake of the Abu Dhabi event, his statement first issued to earlier this month the first time he’d spoken publicly since that weekend.

While the Australian has a limited profile on social media, he does use select platforms, through which he was the victim of abuse from angry fans.

“Thankfully, I don’t have an Instagram account. Or Twitter. I don’t have any of that,” he said.

“Being old-school I do however had Facebook which I used to stay in touch with family and friends.

“I opened my messages that night to check in with them. I had no idea that I could receive them from people I did not know. But I was wrong.

“I was confronted with hundreds of messages. I wouldn’t say thousands but certainly hundreds.

“And they were shocking. Racist, abusive, vile, they called me every name under the sun. And there were death threats. People saying that were going to come after me and my family.

“And they kept coming. Not just one 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 kept the messages he received largely to himself, even playing them down to his employer, the FIA.

“At first, I just thought I was ignore it and get on with it because I knew it could take me to a very dark place,” he explained.

“I tried to cut myself off mentally, and I thought I could.

“I mostly kept it all to myself.

“I told a few people but not many. I didn’t want to concern my family and friends. I didn’t want them worrying too.

“The FIA knew but I think I downplayed it all to everyone including them.”

While Masi’s experience is extreme, he’s not the only figure connected with the sport to have been subjected to abuse.

Nicholas Latifi received death threats for his part in the Abu Dhabi debacle, the Williams driver’s crash ultimately triggering the controversial Safety Car, while Lewis Hamilton has been subjected to racial abuse.

Members of the media and even fans have been subjected to discrimination and insulting messages.

It’s a problem that affects the entire sport, with Formula 1 working to address the matter with the launch of its ‘Drive it Out’ initiative this weekend.

Now residing back on home soil surrounded by family and friends, Masi is evaluating a number of opportunities for his future, building on the experiences he’s built in a career thus far.

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