Three-time world champion Nelson Piquet has been banned from the Formula 1 paddock after his apology to Lewis Hamilton failed to persuade bosses to spare him a ban.
Piquet was under intense pressure to contact Hamilton directly to apologize, but in a statement on Wednesday, the 69-year-old claimed his comments had been mistranslated.
After processing the Brazilian’s statement, race leaders are said to have concluded that he should be stripped of his race entry rights.
Telegraph Sport had reported Tuesday how Piquet faced a paddock ban if he didn’t visit Hamilton and apologize directly.
In a statement released Wednesday, Piquet tried to clarify his November 2021 podcast outburst when he twice used the derogatory Portuguese phrase “neguinho” while discussing Hamilton.
While admitting that his use of the term was “ill-considered” and saying he had “no defense” for it, he also tried to clarify the use of his words, blaming mistranslations.
“The term used is a term that has been colloquially and historically used in Brazilian Portuguese as a synonym for ‘man’ or ‘person’ and was never intended to offend,” a statement said.
“In some translations, I would never use the word I have been accused of. I strongly condemn any suggestion that the word has been used by me for the purpose of belittling a driver because of the color of his skin.”
He added: “I offer my sincere apologies to everyone affected, including Lewis, who is an incredible driver, but the translation in some media now circulating on social media is not correct,” Piquet added. “Discrimination has no place in F1 or society and I am happy to clarify my thoughts in that regard.”
Piquet, 69, who won the world title in 1981, 1983 and 1987, used the abusive language as he referred to the seven-time champion’s struggles with Max Verstappen.
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 Brazilian publication Estadao, Piquet, whose daughter Kelly is Verstappen’s girlfriend, said: “The neginho put the car the wrong way and let [the other driver swerve]†
On Wednesday, Hamilton had posted his own thoughts on the matter. “Let’s focus on changing the mindset,” he wrote on Twitter in Portuguese.
The sport had rallied behind Hamilton after the resurgence of the comments, although F1 did not name Piquet.
F1 described Hamilton as an “incredible ambassador” whose “tiring efforts to increase diversity and inclusion are a lesson to many and something we are committed to at F1.”
Hamilton’s teammate George Russell wrote on Twitter: “Huge respect for LH [Hamilton]† He has done more for the sport than any driver in history, not only on the track but also off it. The fact that he and so many others STILL have to deal with this behavior is unacceptable. We must all stand together against any form of discrimination.”
Earlier this week, Red Bull sacked their reserve driver Juri Vips – who had driven in the first practice of the Spanish Grand Prix this year – after an investigation into a video showed him racist language during a live stream from a video game