Michael Masi admits he was scared to attend Australian GP amid abuse from Lewis Hamilton fans

Lewis Hamilton accused the FIA, under Michael Masi, of manipulating the outcome of the 2021 Drivers’ Championship.

Michael Masi has returned to the Formula One paddock for the first time since he left the FIA in the wake of the outcome of the controversial 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

In an incident that the FIA ultimately blamed on “human error,” then-Formula 1 race director Masi didn’t follow the regulations, allowing only the lapped cars between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen to unlap themselves.

This decision led to a last lap shootout between Hamilton, on old hard tyres, and Verstappen, on fresh soft tyres, which resulted in the Dutchman claiming his first world title, while the Brit claimed the race was “manipulated.”

“I was a little nervous on Wednesday, when I first came in,” Masi told the Daily Mail, as he arrived at the Australian Grand Prix.

READ: Safety Car driver makes controversial comment about Michael Masi scandal

The former race director admitted that “he understands the anger of those who accuse him of ruining Hamilton’s race” and, arguably, “his legacy.” 

However, he brushed off the abuse he received from Hamilton’s supporters after the incident, stating they “have their perspective and are entitled to their view.”

“I respect any view, and it’s not for me to comment on what they do or don’t think,” Masi said. “And if I am approached to have a discussion I am open to it, and always have been.”

Masi has been unable to discuss the full nature of what happened on that fateful night in Abu Dhabi, as he signed an NDA with the FIA.

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“I loved the job but you don’t realise the impact travelling so much has on you. When we last met in 2021, I literally lived on a plane,” explaining the pressure he felt in the role.

“I had told them after the Abu Dhabi fallout not to bother reading or watching anything. It’s not healthy. The place can be a very toxic place. 

READ: ‘What just happened?’: Safety Car driver opens up on Lewis Hamilton’s Abu Dhabi heartbreak

“In many ways social media can be a great tool, but not so great in others.

“I have spent time looking after myself. It’s done me good. It’s what I needed. I spent a lot of time getting into physical shape but didn’t spend enough on the mental side for a long while,” he admitted.

Since leaving the FIA, Masi has been appointed as the Independent Chaiman of the Supercars Commission In Australia and to the board of directors of Karting Australia.