The former Australian Formula One racing director, Michael Massey, revealed that he was subjected to “vile” insults and death threats against the backdrop of his mishandling of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the last round of the 2021 season, which ended with Red Bull’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen winning the race and the world title and denying the British Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, his eighth coronation.
Massey was removed from his position last February due to criticism of him, after he decided during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to resume the race in his last lap, while the cars were behind the safety car, which gave Verstappen the victory after overtaking Hamilton.
Hamilton, who did not change his tires while the safety car was on the track, unlike Verstappen, denounced Massey’s decision, saying that the result of the race had been “rigged”.
Mercedes accused Massey, 44, of not fully implementing the law, but decided not to appeal the decision, calling for “measures to be taken before the start of the season.”
In an interview with the Australian newspaper “Daily Telegraph”, Massey revealed that he feared for his life, adding: “There were some dark days. Of course, I felt like I was the most hated man in the world. I received death threats. People said they would target me and my family.”
“I still remember that as I walked the streets of London after a day or two (of what happened), I thought I was fine until I started looking back. I was looking at people wondering if they were going to attack me.”
The FIA carried out a “detailed and explanatory analysis” of the controversial events and decided to change the way races are run in the championship, with no contact between the race director and team directors during races and a virtual race control room, similar to the video assistant referee (VAR) in football. .
And he decided to prevent the publication of direct wireless communications during the race, which are broadcasted live by all televisions, in order to protect the race director from any pressure and enable him to make his decisions safely.
Nils Wittich and Eduardo Freitas are now rotating Racing Director, with Herbie Plush as permanent senior advisor.
The newspaper “Daily Telegraph” that Massi could not talk about the decision he took in Abu Dhabi because of the secrecy agreements with the FIA, but he said that the months after the accident were hell.
He said, “I found myself facing hundreds of messages. It was shocking. Racist, abusive, vile. I cursed with all possible insults. There were death threats and[messages]kept coming in. Not only on my Facebook account, but also on LinkedIn which is supposed to It is a professional business platform.
The Australian said he tried to ignore the messages, but it affected his mental health, adding: “I didn’t go talk to a[psychotherapist]…Maybe I should have.”
He revealed that the FIA was aware of the abuse he was being subjected to, “but I think I underestimated all of that in front of everyone, including them (the FIA).”
Massey decided two weeks ago to leave the FIA permanently after three years as director of Formula One racing and safety delegate, knowing that he took over the task after the sudden death of Charlie Whiting in 2019.
Of the repercussions of the Abu Dhabi race, he said, “It took me a while to process everything. But at the end of the day I thought it was best for me to go home and be close to my (his family) support network.”