Former F1 race director Michael Masi details the “dark days” he faced after the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and says he felt like “the most hated man in the world”.
At the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, race director Michael Masi broke the rules that govern the use of the Safety Car, which basically gave Max Verstappen the race win and the 2021 title on a silver platter.
At the same time, Masi’s controversial and unjust decisions prevented Lewis Hamilton from winning his record-breaking eighth F1 championship.
Now, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Masi opened up on the abuse he received after the race.
“There were some dark days,” the Australian said.
“And absolutely, I felt like I was the most hated man in the world. I got death threats. People saying, they were going to come after me and my family.
“I still remember walking down the street in London a day or two later. I thought I was OK until I started looking over my shoulder. I was looking at people wondering if they were going to get me.”
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He then detailed the online abuse he was receiving.
“Thankfully, I don‘t have an Instagram account or Twitter. I don’t have any of that. Being old-school I do however have 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] they were going to come after me and my family.
“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 explained the whole ordeal negatively impacted his mental health.
“I didn’t go and talk to a professional. With the benefit of hindsight, I probably should have.
“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.
“I didn’t want to talk to anyone, not even family and friends. I only talked to my close family – but very briefly.
“I also lost my appetite. I have heard some people become binge eaters during times like this but I didn’t eat much. It did have a physical impact, but it was more mental.
“I just wanted to be in a bubble. I had no desire to talk to them. I just wanted to be alone, which was very challenging.”
“The whole experience has made me a much stronger person. I have a number of exciting options going forward. I am considering a number of different projects, both domestic and globally.
“My intention is to base myself out of Australia and to use all the skills I have gained in what has been an incredible journey so far and one I am extremely proud and thankful for,” Masi concluded.