Former F1 champion Piquet apologizes to Hamilton for racist comment


Former Formula 1 champion Nelson Piquet apologized to Lewis Hamilton on Wednesday, saying the racial term he used of the Mercedes driver was « badly thought out » but not meant to be offensive.

The 69-year-old Brazilian came under heavy criticism this week following comments he made in Portuguese last November on a podcast where he called Hamilton a ‘neguinho’, meaning ‘little black guy’.

« What I said was poorly thought out, and I do not defend it, but I will clarify that the term used is one that has been widely and historically used colloquially in Brazilian Portuguese as a synonym for ‘guy’ or ‘person’ and n ‘was ever meant to offend, » Piquet, who won three F1 titles in the 1980s, said in the statement.

« I would never use the word I have been accused of in some translations. I strongly condemn any suggestion that the word was used by me for the purpose of demeaning a driver because of their skin color. »

Term used 3 times

Piquet used the term three times during the interview as he discussed an accident between Hamilton – seven-time F1 champion and the sport’s only black driver – and Max Verstappen at the British Grand Prix from last year.

« I apologize wholeheartedly to everyone who has been affected, including Lewis, who is an incredible driver, » added Piquet. « But the translation in some media now circulating on social media is not correct. Discrimination has no place in F1 or in society and I am happy to clarify my thinking in this regard. »

After Piquet’s comments resurfaced this week, Hamilton called for a change in ‘archaic mindsets’, while F1 and governing body FIA both condemned the use of 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 entire life, » Hamilton tweeted on Tuesday. « There has been a lot of time to learn. The time has come to act. »

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