Michael Masi’s response to accusations that he “ruined Hamilton’s legacy”

Michael Masi has spoken about the fallout of his most notorious moment, involving Lewis Hamilton, at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico,
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd…

Ex-race director Masi lost his job with the FIA in the wake of the controversy caused by his incorrect interpretation of the Safety Car rule which allowed Max Verstappen to overtake Hamilton, and claim a last-gasp championship.

Masi is back in the paddock at the F1 Australian Grand Prix, in his home country, this weekend for the first time since Abu Dhabi.

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“I was a little nervous on Wednesday, when I first came in,” he told the Daily Mail. “But you have seen with your own eyes the kind reception.”

Masi was asked if “he understands the anger of those who accuse him of ruining Hamilton's race” and “possibly his legacy?”

Masi replied: “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.

“And if I am approached to have a discussion I am open to it, and always have been.”

Masi signed an NDA when he departed his job with the FIA meaning he cannot discuss details of that notorious race in Abu Dhabi, where Hamilton lost out on an all-time record eighth title, and Verstappen’s dominance began.

Michael Masi (AUS) FIA Race
Michael Masi (AUS) FIA Race

He now describes his time as a race director: “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. 

“The joys of being able to cook a meal at home, being able to catch up with relatives are now open to me.

“My only living grandparent, Agusta, is 89 and is 10 minutes down the road. She can't speak a word of English and she loves the fact I go to see her and have a coffee with her. Those little things. You don't realise what they mean. Weddings, birthdays.

“When I stopped at the FIA, I told my parents, ‘Those days are done for me’. 

Michael Masi (AUS) FIA Race
Michael Masi (AUS) FIA Race

“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. 

“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.

“There were people I was speaking to privately, my then partner - she was an amazing support - and friends and family. As for professional help, I got that, but probably later than I should have done - the latter part of last year, but things had largely calmed down by then.”

Hamilton has insisted that he won’t talk to Masi if they meet in Melbourne this weekend.

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