Former Formula 1 racing director Michael Masi has described the abuse he received on social media following the controversial call at last season’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen won his first world title after passing Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton on the final lap after a hotly disputed restart procedure.
Hamilton was comfortably leading until a crash by Nicholas Latifi with five laps to go pulled out the safety car. Verstappen stopped under yellow flags for fresher tires and Masi reversed his decision, allowing the five lapped drivers separating Verstappen from Hamilton to pass the safety car under yellow. But not all eight, that would have taken longer.
Coronavirus: Mercedes F1 Team Develops Breathing Aid Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
The governing body, the FIA, concluded that Masi committed a “human error” but acted in good faith. Masi was replaced in his role and then left the FIA entirely three weeks ago to move back to Australia.
In an interview with Australia’s NewsCorp, the 44-year-old Australian recalled feeling like “the most hated man in the world” as he revealed the level of animosity he has endured from hundreds of toxic messages online.
“They were shocking. Racist, abusive, hateful, they called me every name under the sun. And there were death threats. People said they were after me and my family,” Masi said in an interview. “And they kept coming. Not only on my Facebook, but also on my LinkedIn, which aims to be a professional platform for businesses. It was the same kind of abuse.”
The interview Masi gave to the Sunday Telegraph included screenshots of some of the messages, with Masi saying he was relieved to no longer have social media platforms for people to attack him on.
“Luckily I don’t have an Instagram account. Or Twitter, I don’t have any of that,” Masi said. “But as an old school I do have Facebook, which I used to use to keep in touch with family and friends. I opened my messages that evening to check in with them. Little did I know I could get them from people I didn’t know. But I was wrong. I was confronted with hundreds of messages.”
Yes, Canadians can enter the $1.1 billion Mega Millions lottery. Here’s how
China is conducting a ‘live fire’ military exercise near Taiwan and warns Pelosi not to visit
F1 driver Sebastian Vettel calls Alberta oil sands ‘a crime’
Masi first tried to hide everything.
“I just thought I’d ignore it and move on because I knew it could take me to a very dark place. I was trying to cut myself off mentally and I thought I could,” he said. “I kept it mostly to myself… The FIA knew it, but I think I downplayed it to everyone, including them.”
But the toll on Masi’s mental health has already been significant.
“I remember walking down the street in London a day or two later. I thought I was okay until I started looking over my shoulder,” he said. “I looked at people and wondered if they were going to get me.”
He fought a private internal battle as he came to terms with the abuse in his own way.
“I’ve only spoken to my close family – but only briefly. I’ve lost my appetite too,” he said. “It had a physical impact, but it was more mental. I just wanted to be in a bubble. I just wanted to be alone, which was very challenging.”
‘Exaggerated hypocrisy’ of F1 Oil Sands protest helps Alberta’s case, argues Jason Kenney
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said in a recent interview with The Associated Press that Masi had been treated terribly and the criticism was deeply unfair.
“It was bullying for me. He’s been hung out to dry by a couple of teams, and I don’t think that’s right at all,” Horner told the AP. “It’s unacceptable, the guy gets threats against his family and stuff like that.”
Masi regrets not having sought professional help.
“I probably should have done that,” he said. “I should have gone and spoken to someone professionally. But as I said that, I had some amazing people around me who got to see it and stopped by daily. I was very fortunate to have this support network.”
Masi cannot speak about the decision itself due to a non-disclosure agreement with the FIA.
“The whole experience made me a much stronger person,” he said. “I’ve just had the longest hiatus of my professional career and have used this time to reconnect with family and friends. I’ve also been doing all the self-care you can neglect when you’re in the grind.”
© 2022 The Canadian Press
https://globalnews.ca/news/9027873/f1-masi-abu-dhabi-death-threats-abuse/ Ex-Formula 1 racing director Masi says he received death threats after controversial call in Abu Dhabi – National