Nelson Piquet apologises to Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton for using a racist slur
On Wednesday, former Formula One champion Nelson Piquet apologised to Lewis Hamilton for using a racist slur while referring to the Mercedes driver.
The 69-year-old Brazilian’s comments on Hamilton, which were aired in Portuguese on a podcast last November, have drawn widespread condemnation this week.
Piquet, who won three Formula One championships in the 1980s, said in a statement, “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 colloquially in Brazilian Portuguese as a synonym for ‘guy’ or ‘person’ and was never intended to offend,” “I have been falsely accused in certain translations of using a term that I would never use. I firmly deny any insinuation that I used the phrase to insult a driver because of his race.”
Piquet used the word three times throughout the interview, all in reference to a collision involving Lewis Hamilton, a seven-time F1 winner, and Max Verstappen, the only Black driver in the sport.
“I apologize wholeheartedly to anyone that was affected, including Lewis, who is an incredible driver,” Piquet added. “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.”
After Piquet’s remarks surfaced again this week, Hamilton demanded that people abandon their “archaic mindsets” and Formula One and the FIA issued statements denouncing racist language.
“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,” Hamilton tweeted on Tuesday. “There has been plenty of time to learn. Time has come for action.”