EX-FORMULA ONE race director Michael Masi has revealed he fell into mental turmoil after the controversial ending to the 2021 season.
Michael Masi, 44, was overseeing the season finale in Abu Dhabi when Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen's title battle reached its climax.
Following a late crash by Nicholas Latifi which prompted a safety car, Masi then allowed lapped cars to unlap themselves to set up a one lap shootout between Verstappen and Hamilton.
On fresh tyres Verstappen went on to overtake the Brit and snatch away Hamilton's would-be record eighth world title, despite the Brit leading for most of the race.
The fallout from the decision was huge, with Masi axed as race director in the following February before later leaving the FIA to move back to Australia in the summer.
Lifting the lid on the backlash he received, Masi has revealed he battled through mental turmoil, bringing in professional help to help with his rehabilitation.
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In an interview with the Daily Mail, he said: "When I stopped at the FIA, I told my parents, 'Those days are done for me'.
"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.
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"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."
An FIA investigation into the race concluded "human error" led to Hamilton losing to Verstappen.
Masi has returned to the F1 paddock for the first time since the incident ahead of this weekend's Australian Grand Prix, however, Hamilton has declared he will not speak to Masi about the 2021 incident.
Asked by reporters whether he would seek out an explanation from Masi, Hamilton replied: "I don't [plan to]. I am just focused on my future.
"I am focused on trying to get back to winning. There is nothing to say."
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