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Max Verstappen: Nelson Piquet Isn't Racist Despite Slur Toward F1's Lewis Hamilton

Adam WellsJune 30, 2022

Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Max Verstappen is playing both sides in the wake of Nelson Piquet's use of a racist slur to describe Lewis Hamilton.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Verstappen said Piquet is "definitely not a racist and he's actually a really nice and relaxed guy."

Verstappen, who is dating Piquet's daughter Kelly, added that "everyone is against racism" and "the wording that was used ... is not correct."

Piquet's comment, which came to light this week, was originally made on a podcast recorded last November to discuss the British Grand Prix, where Hamilton and Verstappen crashed in a collision on the first lap.

Per Mauricio Savarese of the Associated Press, Piquet used the term "neguinho" that translates to "little Black guy."

Hamilton posted three tweets about the comment, including one in Portuguese that translates to "let's focus on changing the mindset."

Piquet, 69, issued a statement apologizing and claimed the word doesn't have a racial connotation in Brazil:

"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."

Speaking to reporters Thursday about the situation, Hamilton questioned giving "older voices" from the sport a platform to speak.

Formula 1 @F1

"It's not about one individual, it's not about one use of that term. It's the bigger picture"<br><br>Eloquent and thought-provoking words from Lewis Hamilton today<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/F1?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#F1</a> <a href="https://t.co/F47pj41giR">pic.twitter.com/F47pj41giR</a>

Formula One announced that Piquet has been banned indefinitely from the paddock.

Piquet competed in F1 from 1978-91. He also competed in the 1993 Indianapolis 500.

Hamilton and Verstappen battled to the final lap of the season before Verstappen controversially won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December for his first world championship. They are scheduled to be in the field for the British GP on Sunday at 10 a.m. ET.

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