Nelson Piquet Issues Statement After Directing Racial Slur at Lewis Hamilton

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJune 29, 2022

GP3 Series - Round 4..Silverstone, Northamptonshire, UK..Sunday 8 July 2018..Nelson Piquet Father of Pedro Piquet (BRA, Trident)    (Photo by Joe Portlock/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images)
Joe Portlock/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images

Former Formula One driver Nelson Piquet has issued an apology for his use of a racial slur aimed at Lewis Hamilton, via ESPN's Nate Saunders:

"What I said was ill thought out, and I make no defence for it, but I will clarify that the term used is one that has widely and historically been used in Brazilian Portuguese for a synonym for 'guy' or 'person' and was never intended to offend. I would never use the word I have been accused of in some translations.

"I strongly condemn any suggestion that the word was used by me with the aim of belittling a driver because of his skin colour. I apologise wholeheartedly to anyone that was affected, including Lewis, who is an incredible driver, but the translation in some media that is now circulating on social media is not correct. Discrimination has no place in F1 or society and I am happy to clarify my thoughts in that respect."

The comments were made in Portuguese on a podcast in November, criticizing Hamilton after a collision with Max Verstappen during the Silverstone Grand Prix. Verstappen is dating Piquet's daughter.

Piquet's words recently surfaced, with some noting the use of a Portuguese slur.

"Discriminatory or racist language is unacceptable in any form and has no part in society," F1 said in a statement. "Lewis is an incredible ambassador for our sport and deserves respect.

Piquet has been banned indefinitely from visiting the F1 paddock as a result of his comments, per Saunders.

Hamilton, a seven-time Formula One champion, provided his thoughts on Twitter:

Lewis Hamilton @LewisHamilton

It’s more than language. These archaic mindsets need to change and have no place in our sport. I’ve been surrounded by these attitudes and targeted my whole life. There has been plenty of time to learn. Time has come for action.

He also wrote a message in Portuguese, which translates to: "Let's focus on changing the mindset."

The Mercedes F1 team also condemned the comments in a statement.

Piquet, 69, won three Formula One titles in the 1980s before retiring from the organization in 1992. His son, Nelson Piquet Jr., has competed in Formula One and Formula E as well as stock car racing.