Lewis Hamilton has said Nelson Piquet’s “archaic mentality” has “no place in our sport” after the Brazilian three-time Formula 1 world champion made racist comments about the British driver.
Formula 1, the FIA and Mercedes have condemned racist comments about Hamilton by former driver Piquet, who twice used the derogatory Portuguese term ‘neguinho’ while discussing Hamilton’s victory at last year’s British Grand Prix.
Piquet, 69, who won the world title in 1981, 1983 and 1987, used the abusive language while referring to the seven-time champion’s struggles with Max Verstappen on a podcast.
He had been asked if Hamilton managed to claim the win at Silverstone despite tangling with Verstappen on lap one, eventually causing the Dutchman to crash into the guardrails and be taken to hospital. In images shared by the Brazilian publication Estadao, Piquet said: “The neginho put the car in the wrong way and did not let it go. [the other driver swerve]†
Piquet added: “The neguinho put the car in the wrong way, because you don’t know the corner. It’s a very high corner, there’s no way to overtake two cars and you can’t put the car to the side. He did [Verstappen] dirty. His luck was that only the other one was gone.”
Hamilton gave a scathing response on Twitter, posting a message in Portuguese that translated to “Let’s focus on changing the mindset”.
He added: “It’s more than language. These archaic mindsets need to change and have no place in our sport. I have been surrounded by these attitudes and the target all my life. There has been plenty of time to learn. It is time for action.”
This weekend’s British Grand Prix is the anniversary of the first of a series of clashes between Hamilton and Verstappen. Piquet, the father of Verstappen’s partner Kelly Piquet, has a history of unsavory outbursts. During his car career, he questioned the sexuality of Ayrton Senna. He also called his rival “Sao Paulo’s taxi driver”.
An F1 statement said of Piquet’s comments about Hamilton: “Discriminating or racist language is unacceptable in any form and has no role in society. Lewis is an incredible ambassador for our sport and deserves respect. His tireless efforts to promote diversity and inclusion are a lesson to many and something we are committed to in F1.”
Hamilton’s team Mercedes said: “We condemn in the strongest terms any use of racist or discriminatory language of any kind. Lewis has been at the forefront of our sport’s efforts to fight racism, and he is a true champion of diversity in and next to the track.
“Together we share a vision for a diverse and inclusive motorsport, and this incident underlines the fundamental importance of continuing to strive for a better future.”
Piquet had also likened the Hamilton-Verstappen collision to the title-deciding crash involving Senna and Alain Prost at the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix. “Senna didn’t,” Piquet added. “Senna went straight ahead. Straight ahead. He [Hamilton]† Never, no, he said, ‘Here, I hate him anyway’.”
Last week Sir Jackie Stewart urged Hamilton to withdraw from Formula 1 to protect his legacy, adding that it was a “pity” he didn’t make it to the top.