Brazilian retired racing driver and businessman Nelson Piquet, a three-time Formula 1 World Champion, used the racial slur during an interview he gave towards the end of the 2021 Formula 1 championship, as Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton battled for the title. The podcast took place last November, but comments resurfaced ahead of the British GP at Silverstone.
Kast November, Nelson Piquet was interviewed by Motorsport Talk’s Ricardo Oliveira and was asked about the 2021 British Grand Prix, most specifically about the highly controversial crash on the first lap of the Silverstone event, when Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton collided at high speed at the Copse corner. The Red Bull driver retired after being flung into the tyre barriers, while Lewis Hamilton was able to continue the race. Mercedes took advantage of the red flag to repair his car following the incident and despite the 10 second time penalty for being found predominantly to blame for the crash, the Mercedes car was far superior to the rest of the field that Hamilton recovered from the back to overtake Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc with just a few laps until the end of the British Grand Prix.
Nelson Piquet, when asked about that moment, referred to the Mercedes driver in a racially derogatory fashion as he and Oliveira spoke in Portuguese.
According to Brazilian media, the three-time Formula 1 World Champion said: “The [racial slur] put the car in and left it, because there was no way to get past two cars at that corner. He drove dirty.”
The story has been reported by some of Brazil’s largest media agencies, including as CNN Brasil, O Globo, and Folha de Sao Paulo. Nelson Piquet, father of former Formula 1 driver Nelson Piquet Junior, is also the father of Kelly Piquet, Max Verstappen’s girlfriend.
Formula 1 issued a statement on Nelson Piquet’s comments: “Discriminatory or racist language is unacceptable in any form and has no part in society. Lewis is an incredible ambassador for our sport and deserves respect. His tireless efforts to increase diversity and inclusion are a lesson to many and something we are committed to at F1.”
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Mercedes of course followed with their own firm condemnation: “We condemn in the strongest terms any use of racist of discriminatory language of any kind. Lewis has spearheaded our sport’s efforts to combat racism, and he is a true champion of diversity on and off 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 brighter future.”
Scuderia Ferrari also released a statement in support of Lewis Hamilton: “We stand alongside F1, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes AMG F1 against any form of discrimination.” – the Maranello team posted on their social media accounts.
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