In an interview published Sunday in the Daily Telegraph of Sydney, Australian Michael Masi, former Formula 1 race director, has claimed to have received death threats and insults after his controversial decisions in the very last laps of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2021, which gave Max Verstappen the possibility of overtaking Lewis Hamilton and, thus, winning the title. ” I felt like the most hated man on the planet. I received death threats, from people who threatened to take care of me and my family “, he explained.
During this final race of the season, by ordering the latecomers interposed – under safety car regime – between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton (then in the lead) to overtake the latter, Masi thus allowed the Dutchman to pounce on the seven-time champion in the world, to overtake him on the last lap to claim his first crown.
The former race director returns to the ” hundreds of posts » which he then received: « They were shocking, racist, abusive, mean, people called me names. And there were death threats. And it continued, on my Facebook account and especially on LinkedIn, which is supposed to be a professional platform. It was the same kind of insults. »
Masi “worried about his mental health”
Shocked by this outpouring of hate, Michael Masi, “ worried about his mental health “, believes that he should have” go see a specialist ” instead of ” minimize the situation, including vis-à-vis the FIA (international federation)”. He has since quit his job. Hired by the FIA following the sudden death of Charlie Whiting in early 2019, he decided to leave in July, after a long reflection, to return to live in Australia.
Formula 1 launched on Saturday, on the sidelines of the Hungarian Grand Prix, a campaign against discrimination and racist insults of all kinds, due to many excesses of fans, in the stands and on social networks, during the Austrian Grand Prix.