Motor racing-Masi returns to F1 paddock but Hamilton focused on future

Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - March 30, 2023 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton arriving at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit REUTERS/Darrian Traynor

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton had no desire to meet former race director Michael Masi after the Australian returned to the Formula One paddock for the first time since losing his job after a controversial 2021 title-decider in Abu Dhabi.

Hamilton missed what would have been a record eighth title after Masi changed the safety car procedures late in the race at Yas Marina, a move that helped Red Bull's Max Verstappen win and take his first championship.

Masi was at his home Australian Grand Prix in a new role of chairman of the V8 Supercars Commission.

The Australian series is on the support programme for the Formula One race at Albert Park.

Mercedes driver Hamilton has not added to his record tally of 103 wins since 2021.

Asked if he planned to speak to Masi in Melbourne, Hamilton told reporters: "I don’t. I am just focused on my future. I am focused on trying to get back to winning. There is nothing to say."

Masi said last year, after leaving the governing FIA and relocating to Australia, that he had received online death threats against him and his family after the controversy.

"There were some dark days," he said then. "I felt like I was the most hated man in the world."

A report into the Abu Dhabi race found in March 2022 that Masi had made a "human error" but acted in "good faith".

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ken Ferris)

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