Former world champion Nelson Piquet has been warned that he could face a ban from Formula One if he doesn’t publicly apologise to Sir Lewis Hamilton for using a racial slur to describe him in an interview.
Piquet used the derogatory Portuguese phrase ‘neguinho’ while referring to the seven-time world champion on a podcast with the Brazilian publication Motorsport Talks in November last year.
The 69-year-old recorded the interview in Portuguese and the footage was uploaded onto YouTube in March. It was translated into English after gaining traction on social media on Monday, ahead of the first anniversary of the crash.
Piquet, who won the world title in 1981, 83 and 87, had been discussing the collision between Hamilton and Max Verstappen on the first lap of last year’s British Grand Prix.
The former driver – whose daughter Kelly is dating Hamilton’s rival Verstappen – had suggested Hamilton pushed Verstappen off the track on purpose, ending his race.
He said: ‘The neguinho put the car in the wrong way and didn’t let [the other driver swerve].’
Hamilton today hit back, writing ‘Imagine’ next to a tweet which said, ‘what if Lewis Hamilton just tweeted, ‘Who the f*** is Nelson Piquet?’
The 37-year-old added: ‘It’s more than language. These are archaic mindsets need to change and have no place in our sport. I’ve been surrounded by these attitudes and targeted my whole life. There has been plenty of time to learn. Time has come for action.’
He also posted a message in Portuguese – Piquet’s native language – reading, ‘let’s focus on changing the mindset.’
Insiders have now hinted that Piquet faces a ban from all Formula 1 races, and will not be allowed in the paddock, if he does not publicly apologise to Hamilton.
But supporters of Piquet on social media insisted his interview had been misinterpreted and argued the word was a commonly used slang term.
It is not the first time Hamilton has spoken out about racial abuse, having previously clashed with ex-F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone who last year suggested Formula One’ was not racist’ and claimed Hamilton was ‘being used’ by the Black Lives Matter movement.
Piquet previously called Nigel Mansell an ‘uneducated blockhead’ and described his wife Roseanne as ‘ugly.’
Nelson Piquet has been blasted by Formula One bosses after the comments came to light. He had been speaking on a Brazilian podcast (pictured) about an incident between Max Verstappen and the seven-time world champion
Lewis, pictured in Malibu on Sunday, was pictured catching some waves ahead of the British Grand Prix this weekend. F1 described him as a ‘true champion of diversity on and off track’ in their statement condemning Piquet
The seven-time world champion has now hit back at Piquet’s racist comments, calling for ‘action’ against the ‘archaic mindsets’. He added a message in Portuguese, the Brazilian drivers native language, saying ‘let’s focus on changing the mindset’
Piquet used the derogatory Portuguese phrase ‘neguinho’ while referring to the seven-time world champion, pictured today, on a podcast with the Brazilian publication Motorsport Talks in November last year. Former champion Piquet has been warned that he could be banned from the F1 paddock if he does not publicly apologise to Hamilton
The Brazilian ex-racing driver had been discussing an incident between Red Bull’s Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, pictured, at the British Grand Prix last year. The pair collided on lap one of the race at Silverstone ending the Dutchman’s race
‘He did Verstappen dirty’: Piquet’s comments on Hamilton
Brazilian Piquet described the incident as a ‘joke’ on the podcast, and said Hamilton had been ‘lucky’ that Verstappen only crashed.
He told Motorsport Talks: ‘The neguinho put the car in the wrong way and didn’t let [the other driver swerve].
‘The neguinho put the car in the wrong way on the corner, it’s because you don’t know the curve.
‘It’s a very high curve, there is no way to pass two cars and there’s no way you can put the car aside.
‘He did [Verstappen] dirty. His luck was that only the other one was gone.’
Formula One chiefs today slammed the former Brazilian champion for making the comments during an interview, but did not name him.
In a statement they said: ‘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.’
Hamilton’s teammate George Russell has also hit out at the comments, adding: ‘Huge respect to Lewis Hamilton.
‘He has done more for the sport than any driver in history, not just on track but off it.
‘The fact that he and so many others are STILL having to deal with this behaviour is unacceptable. We all need to stand together against discrimination of any kind.’
Ex-cricketer Azeem Rafiq, who went public with claims that he was racially abused at Yorkshire Cricket Club last year, has also spoken out in support of the F1 driver.
Reposting Hamilton’s comment he said: ‘Read this & read it again!! Time for action.’
Premier League star Nuno Tavares added: ‘This must stop. Standing with you Lewis Hamilton.’
Piquet used the racial slur while expressing his opinion that Hamilton had made a mistake by crashing into the Dutch driver, and ending his race.
The Mercedes driver was handed a ten-second penalty for the incident, but went on to win the race and cut his points deficit to Verstappen.
Verstappen was sent crashing into the barriers at the side of the track at a force of 52G and needed to be taken to a nearby hospital for precautionary checks.
The opening lap ended abruptly for the Red Bull driver, 24, after colliding with his championship rival at Silverstone’s notorious Copse corner.
This weekend’s British Grand Prix marks a year since the heated incident, which was one in a series between the two championship rivals as they fought for last year’s world title.
The Dutchman won his first world title after seeing off Hamilton last season in the sport where he has gained a reputation for being hot headed on and off the track.
Questioning Senna’s sexuality and upsetting Mansell and his wife: Piquet’s previous controversies
Ex-racing driver Piquet has previously made a series of unpleasant comments about his fellow F1 drivers.
He publicly questioned Ayrton Senna’s sexuality in the time that they battled each other and called his rival ‘the Sao Paulo taxi driver’.
He also made offensive comments about Nigel Mansell and the Briton’s wife when they were team-mates at Williams.
The Brazilian gave an infamous interview with Playboy about his then teammate, calling Mansell an ‘uneducated blockhead’.
Piquet also resorted to derogatory insults about Mansell’s wife which he later apologised for when legal action was threatened.
During the final round of the F1 calendar last year he was heard voicing his frustrations at a late safety car caused by Nicholas Latifi.
He voiced his frustration over the team radio, saying: Yeah, of course, typical decision’ before race director Michael Masi dramatically reversed his call to allow only the lapped cars to overtake leaving a one-lap head-to-head fight between the title contenders.
Verstappen was also caught on camera pushing Esteban Ocon after the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2018, after the French driver clumsily tried to unlap himself.
He had been cruising to win the race before the incident, and was heard seething ‘I hope I can’t find him now in the paddock because that guy has a f***ing problem.’
During the first race of this season Verstappen struggled to overtake Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, and voiced his frustrations at his team.
After trying to clear the Monegasque driver for the second time he shouted at his team for advising him to take it easy on his tyres, yelling ‘I am never, ever doing it again!’
The championship battle ended in controversy during the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which saw Verstappen win his first world title on the last lap of the race.
In a statement Mercedes said: ‘We condemn in the strongest terms any use of racist or 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.’
Mercedes have raced in black for the past two seasons as ‘a stand against racism and discrimination in all forms and a public pledge to further improve the diversity of our team and our sport.’
Motorsport mogul Bernie Ecclestone took aim at the politicisation of the sport last year, claiming Formula One is not racist and that he believes Hamilton is ‘being used’ by the Black Lives Matter movement.
He previously said he would ban Formula One drivers taking a knee before races and would stop them wearing anti-racism t-shirts on the podium.
Ecclestone, 91, insisted that Hamilton had ‘misunderstood’ his view but he is ‘entitled to his opinion’ on the need for increased opportunities.
He said he was ‘surprised’ Hamilton was concerned by racial abuse he suffered in his career, before saying ‘black people are more racist than white people’.
Piquets daughter Kelly, pictured after the Abi Dhabi Grand Prix last year, is dating Dutch driver Max Verstappen. He described the incident as a ‘joke’ on the podcast, and said that Hamilton had been ‘lucky’ that Verstappen only crashed
The seven-time world champion has previously clashed with ex-F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone over ‘ignorant’ comments. Ecclestone previously said he would ban Formula One drivers taking a knee before races and would stop them wearing anti-racism t-shirts on the podium
Ecclestone, 91, has insisted Hamilton ‘misunderstood’ his view but he is ‘entitled to his opinion’ on the need for increased opportunities in the sport. He added that he believes Hamilton is ‘being used’ by the Black Lives Matter movement
Piquet, whose daughter Kelly, pictured, is dating Verstappen, has previously made a series of unpleasant statements about other racing drivers during his career
After their public spat on social media, Ecclestone said Formula 1 is ‘open to anyone’ regardless of race or religion.
Hamilton revealed the racial abuse he had received in his career, including an incident in Spain in 2008 where fans taunted him in blackface.
F1’s governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), have also condemned the comments made by the former world champion in his interview.
In a statement they said: ‘The FIA strongly condemns any racist or discriminatory language and behaviour, which have no place in sport or wider society.
‘We express our solidarity with Lewis Hamilton and fully support his commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion in motor sport.’
Hamilton’s former team McLaren said: ‘McLaren Racing stands alongside Lewis Hamilton and F1.
‘Racism must be driven out of our sport, and it’s our shared responsibility to unite and eliminate it.’
Ferrari’s F1 team also issued a message of support, writing: ‘We stand alongside Formula One, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes AMG F1 against any form of discrimination.’
Aston Martin’s F1 team added: ‘We stand with Lewis Hamilton and all those around the world affected by racism or discrimination of any kind. There is no room for this abhorrent behaviour in our sport or society.’
Piquet has previously made a series of unpleasant statements about other racing drivers throughout his career.
During his racing career he publicly questioned Ayrton Senna’s sexuality and called his rival ‘the Sao Paulo taxi driver’.
He also made offensive comments about Nigel Mansell and the Briton’s wife when they were team-mates at Williams.
Lewis Hamilton’s battle against racism: F1 champion blasted ‘ignorant and uneducated’ F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone after he said ‘black people are more racist than white people’, suggested BLM were ‘USING him’ and said he would NOT allow drivers to take the knee
BY EMMA JAMES
Sir Lewis Hamilton has previously said that he is constantly troubled and saddened by the continuing lack of diversity in Formula One.
The seven-time world champion hit out at Bernie Ecclestone in 2020 for being ‘ignorant and uneducated’ after the ex-F1 boss said ‘black people are more racist than white people’.
The 91-year-old made the comments during an interview with CNN, reacting to recent Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd in the US.
He said: ‘In lots of cases black people are more racist than what white people are.
‘[It’s just] things over the years that I’ve noticed, and there’s no need for it. I’m against injustice for anyone, whatever colour they are. It’s important to do something about that for a start.’
Ahead of the 2021 season Ecclestone went on to say that he didn’t think F1 was racist, adding that he would not have allowed drivers to take the knee.
He also warned Lewis’ father Anthony that the Mercedes driver needed to be ‘careful’ by aligning himself with the BLM movement – claiming that they were using the star for money.
Ecclestone (left) and Hamilton (right) have a history in the sport but offer different opinions, with the driver saying he has been ‘saddened’ by the comments his former boss has made
Rivalry on and off the track: How ‘ruthless’ Hamilton and Max Verstappen clash
Lewis Hamilton previously admitted that he and rival Max Verstappen were ‘alike in their ruthlessness.’
The Mercedes star was pipped to the title by Red Bull’s Verstappen in highly controversial circumstances last season, with a bitter on- and off-track rivalry boiling over at points, particularly after their dangerous crash at Monza.
But Hamilton conceded that ‘some days we get it wrong’.
He told Sky Sports: ‘For me and Max, we see each other in the paddock, things are normal – we’re two individual drivers.
‘We have a lot in common in the sense of we love what we do, driving, but then on the other side, we’re ruthless. He is ruthless, I am.
‘We are fighters out there. There are no friends on track. Some days we get it right, some days we get it wrong.
‘What’s really important is when we get back out we’re human beings and we do keep respect’.
And in 2021, as the Mercedes star forced his way past Verstappen during a practice session, the Dutchman with disdain used his team radio to call him a ‘stupid idiot’ while also raising a middle finger at him in the process.
Hamilton responded when informed of Verstappen’s actions later on by saying: ‘I think at the core of everything has to be respect. For me, I try to just remain positive and keep calm and again be respectful to the drivers I’m fighting, regardless. If I have a name in my head of what I think they are, I don’t share that.’
Ecclestone told the Telegraph: ‘I’ve said to his father, ‘Lewis needs to be careful’. Because he’s being used by the people who are supporting this Black Lives Matter and they are taking a lot of money from it. And nobody knows where it goes,’
‘If I’d still been around there wouldn’t have been anyone wearing [anti-racism] t-shirts on the podium, that’s for sure,
‘One hundred per cent, there wouldn’t have been this business of kneeling before races.’
Hitting back at his former boss, Hamilton said that he was ‘so sad and disappointed’ to read the comments.
He continued: ‘Bernie is out of the sport and a different generation but this is exactly what is wrong – ignorant and uneducated comments which show us how far we as a society need to go before real equality can happen.
‘It makes complete sense to me now that nothing was said or done to make our sport more diverse or to address the racial abuse I received throughout my career.
‘If someone who has run the sport for decades has such a lack of understanding of the deep routed issues we as black people deal with every day, how can we expect all the people who work under him to understand. It starts at the top.’
Since first taking to the track in 2007 in a McLaren cockpit aged 22, and making the switch to Mercedes in 2013, Hamilton has become one of the most decorated drivers in history.
The 37-year-old has won more races and taken more pole positions than any other driver and won seven world championships, a joint record with Michael Schumacher.
Hamilton remains the sports only black driver, and recalled an incident at the 2008 Spanish Grand Prix where some fans showed up in blackface while wearing shirts that read ‘Hamilton’s Family.’
Last summer he founded Mission 44, a foundation designed to back children from underrepresented groups.
He made a personal donation of £20million to the cause, which will help children wanting careers in not only F1 but in science, technology, engineering and maths too.
Hamilton also pushed for his latest contract, signed during the 2021 season, to include stipulations for increasing diversity within the team.
The racing driver still does not believe enough is being done in motorsport in promoting diversity and keeping up awareness of the Black Lives Matter message.
He took action amidst the movement when he wore a T-shirt that read ‘arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor’ at the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix.
He told Sky Sports last year: ‘I’ve not been drawing on past experiences, I’ve been drawing on feeding off this energy of doing this positive work.
‘I noticed that last year and it was a part of that last year. Getting on the podium so I can give Breonna that voice, it was a super drive for me.
‘So now it’s the work that I’m doing in the background and then I’m turning up and I’m enjoying this job.
‘Is it helping me race? I think so, yeah. It’s like my new drive and I feel like it’s giving me more longevity because it’s a lot of work we have to do. I feel like it also gives my life real purpose. Racing is not a purpose, it’s something you do.’
Some drivers elected not to take the knee during the 2021 season, but all of them wore anti-racism t-shirts as a mark of support. Lewis Hamilton was the driving force behind the movement in the sport, with Mercedes launching an all black livery as ‘a stand against racism and discrimination in all forms
He has admitted that he finds he has ‘difficult days where he doesn’t want to train’ and that his outside projects are keeping him motivated now and for when he decides to leave Formula One.
‘There’s been definitely been times where I’m like, I don’t know if I can keep going, or maybe there’s something else I want to do. But I don’t think I’d found my purpose until last year.
‘Now I feel like I have a mission in life and it’s not about just winning championships and races, that’s all cool, but actually being able to make an impact to help youngsters coming through.’