Ex-Formula 1 Race Director Michael Masi has returned to the paddock for the first time since the controversial 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Masi came under fire for how he allowed the Safety Car restart at the end of the race to unfold, which had major consequences in the title fight between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.
He allowed only the cars lapped cars in between the leaders to unlap themselves before resuming the race.
Verstappen overtook Hamilton with fresh Soft tyres equipped to his car and won his maiden title.
Masi was ousted from his role in the weeks after the Abu Dhabi fallout and last July, the FIA communicated that he had departed the company altogether.
Speaking to the Sydney Daily Telegraph last year, Masi detailed that he fell into an uncomfortable state following the events in Abu Dhabi.
“There were some really dark days,” said Masi. “I felt like I was the most hated man in the world. I got death threats, 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 okay until I started looking over my shoulder. I was looking at people wondering if they were going to get me.”
Since then, he has taken on the role of Chair of the Supercars Commission, with the Australian category competing in Albert Park this weekend..
Masi’s presence in the F1 paddock this weekend was highlighted to Hamilton on Thursday, however the seven-time World Champion remained tight-lipped over the situation.
“I’m just focusing on the future, focused on trying to get back to winning. There’s nothing to say.”
In 2022, F1 operated under two Race Directors Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich, who rotated the role.
However, Freitas didn’t return to the position in 2022 after an incident in Japan that saw a tractor on the circuit while cars were circling in detrimental conditions.
Wittich is working as the sole Race Director for the 2023 campaign.