FIA blames toxic social media for Michael Masi's decision to leave Formula 1 after 2021 season

President Mohammed Ben Sulayem claims the FIA did not force Michael Masi to leave his role as race director and that social media had a large part in his decision to step down.

Masi was at the centre of a major controversy at the end of the 2021 season when he made some questionable calls that ultimately allowed Max Verstappen to overtake Lewis Hamilton in the final lap of the last race of the season to win the F1 Drivers' Championship.

While no-one would question the excitement or spectacle it created, there was an issue around fairness as Hamilton was effectively left as a sitting duck.

The backlash after the race was severe and Masi was removed from his position of race director and replaced by a rotating pool of race directors that would cylce around for each race.

However, opinions on Masi have been shifting and many now feel that he was not given enough support by the FIA and was effectively held up as a scapegoat.

Ben Sulayem says that couldn't be further from the trut: "It was also his choice," the FIA president said.

"I'd been talking to him at the beginning. There were human errors there, and I felt that he also wanted to just not go further, because of what he got from social media, the toxic social media.

"I spoke to him, and it was unfair also for him. The FIA was always supportive.

"This is the same thing that's happening to Silvia [Bellot, FIA steward], again to some of our members: threats.

"I got some threats also, to reverse the results, but I didn't take them seriously.

"But now we stand against the toxic social media that will affect our sport.

"I am a big believer that if we don't take a stand, we might find the damage will be beyond repair for our sport in the future."

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