West News Wire: Michael Masi, a former race director for Formula One, has disclosed that he received death threats following a 2021 error that prevented Lewis Hamilton from winning an eighth world championship and allowed Max Verstappen to win his first world championship.
Masi violated the regulations when a safety car was in place as the season finale in Abu Dhabi came to a conclusion.
Verstappen then overtook Hamilton when the race had to be restarted for a final lap as a result of his error.
A “human error” was to blame for an improper application of F1 rules, according to an FIA investigation. Masi was fired by FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem in February of this year as a result.
Masi formally left the FIA this month, and while now at liberty to speak about his experiences, he described the aftermath of his Abu Dhabi debacle as “some dark days”.
“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,” he revealed to News Corp.
Of messages he received on Facebook, Masi said “they were shocking”. “Racist, abusive, vile, they called me every name under the sun.
“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 added, on the same weekend that F1 launched its Drive It Out campaign aimed at tackling online abuse and that distributed at events.
Masi cut a solemn figure after his mistake and revealed that he “wanted to be alone”.
“I didn’t want to talk to anyone,” he explained. “Not even family and friends. I only talked to my close family – but very briefly.
“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.”
Despite his suffering, though, Masi claimed that “the whole experience has made me a much stronger person”.
With Masi since replaced by Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich who share the race director role, the 2022 F1 season is currently 13 rounds through with nine to spare.
Winning the most recent Grand Prix in Hungary on Sunday, Verstappen is in line to scoop a second consecutive world championship while currently leading the driver standings.
Hamilton, who was denied a record eighth crown last year to surpass Michael Schumacher in all-time world title wins, languishes in sixth 112 points behind.