Masi reveals ordeal of death threats after Abu Dhabi drama

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Former F1 race director Michael Masi says the period that followed last year's controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix were "dark days" marked by online abuse directed at the former FIA official and death threats.

Masi's handling of Formula 1's all-important finale and title decider at Yas Marina and his decision to overrule normal safety car regulations to ensure one final lap of racing led to Max Verstappen overhauling race leader Lewis Hamilton and conquering the world title.

The FIA's investigation into the dramatic proceedings led to Masi's ousting as F1's race director and ultimately to his departure earlier this year from the FIA.

But the aftermath of the events that took place last December and the backlash they generated were difficult to bear on a personal level for the Aussie.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W12 leads behind the Aston Martin FIA Safety Car. 12.12.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina

"There were some dark days," Masi said in an extensive interview with The Daily Telegraph.

"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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The online hate directed at Masi spiraled out of control.

"I was confronted with hundreds of messages," he said. "And they were shocking. Racist, abusive, vile, they called me every name under the sun. And there were death threats.

"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."

Despite his best efforts to ignore the repugnant wave of abuse, the messages disrupted Masi's psyche.

"I didn’t go and talk to a professional," he said. "With the benefit of hindsight, I probably should have," he said.

His employer, the FIA was aware of his vilification, although he played down the consequences.

"I mostly kept it all to myself," he added. "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."

Over a year and a half on from that infamous Abu Dhabi weekend, Masi has reset his life, and he's done so as a stronger individual.

"The whole experience has made me a much stronger person," he said.

"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."

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