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Masi received death threats

NEWS STORY
31/07/2022

Former race director, Michael Masi has revealed that he received death threats in the aftermath of last year's controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Other than a brief statement following his decision to quit the FIA, the Australian has maintained total radio silence since that night.

However, though there is a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in place with the FIA forbidding him discussing the race and the events surrounding it, Masi has spoken to the Australian media about the "vile" abuse he and his family suffered in the aftermath.

"There were some dark days," he tells Sydney's Daily Telegraph. "And absolutely, I felt like I was the most hated man in the world.

"I got death threats," he added. "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."

While the events of that night understandably stirred up emotions and have even caused some long-term fans to walk away from the sport, the situation wasn't helped over the winter when it was suggested (by Mercedes) that Lewis Hamilton might walk away from the sport, a suggestion subsequently denied by the German team.

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

"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."

While he tried to ignore the abuse, Masi admits that the constant stream began to affect his mental health.

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

Revealing that the FIA was aware of the abuse, he said: "I think I downplayed it all to everyone including them.

"It took me a while to process it all," he said of the events surrounding Abu Dhabi. "But at the end of the day I thought it was best for me to come back home and be close to my support network."

Masi's admission of the abuse comes a day after the 'F1 community' issued a video message calling on fans to cease online abuse and also abuse at events.

However, as we have seen with so many different subjects in recent years, social media is a toxic place where people feel it is their right to demean and abuse total strangers.

Day by day social media sees us become more and more divided, polarised, intolerant and hateful.

It is all very well the 'F1 community' calling for the abusers to be driven out of the sport, but most of these new 'fans' have been attracted to F1 by the image it is creating by such means as the Drive to Survive series which not only builds controversy and rivalries but creates them where they don't exist.

As one friend of Pitpass put it: "If you have a desperate attempt to attract all and sundry just to get a larger audience, then that's what you will get: the common clay, the lower order... especially if you use pseudo drama documentaries to ramp up the tension.

"It's like when Mansell mania took off," they add, "There were football flags at the GP with track invasions... not what true fans would do. True fans that know other lower formulae exist, they have got soaked at a long distance race, they know what the flags are."

Week after week we are told the sport is booming, but a large part of that "boom" is the sport desperately trying to win over new fans, many of whom have grown up in the toxic world of social media, who feel it is their right to abuse, insult and even threaten those with whom they don't agree. And it will take more than a video to "Drive Out" something that wasn't there a few years ago.

Indeed, one can be sure that today, in the wake of his revelation, Masi will be subjected to yet more abuse.

For all the good it will do, Stefano Domenicali, Toto, Christian and the drivers might as well stand on the grid and sing "I'd like to teach the world to sing", which, at least, has the added benefit of a potential sponsor.

Check out our Sunday gallery from the Hungaroring here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by kenji, 31/07/2022 12:19

"While there is room for debate about the genesis of the current state of play I would simply add that people, of all walks of like, do not like being told what to 'think'. The introduction of woke politics into the very core of the F1 world has polarised so many people who have no venue to offer a sane alternative viewpoint. By not falling into lockstep they are vilified. Politics should never had been allowed to run rampant as has been the case in point. You tend to reap what you sow. "

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2. Posted by Greg, 31/07/2022 11:19

"Well said Max. I wouldn't like that job for any money. Having done marshalling that's tough enough "

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3. Posted by Chester, 31/07/2022 10:38

"You have me goosebumps Max- and prompted soul searching. Thank you"

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4. Posted by Max Noble, 31/07/2022 8:41

"Disagreeing in an agreeable manner appears to be a vanishing skill. A great shame. Joyful diversity, respectful disagreement, cheerful argument (in the legal sense, not the chair over the back of the head sense…) is a particular joy of being human. A great “Pub Debate” can be the stuff of Friday night legend… But not if it ends with baseball bats in the car park…
Civility all around would be a wonderful gift from humanity to humanity for Christmas 2022…

I wish Masi, and his family nothing but good health, and future success. He had one hell of a tough job, and I’m 100% certain none of the on line haters would have lasted 30 seconds in the role. Strength to him, and shame on them.
"

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