Lewis Hamilton: Mercedes, Formula 1 and FIA condemn racially abusive language used by Nelson Piquet about British driver
Nelson Piquet, world champion in 1981, 1983 and 1987, used the term twice during a podcast last November, with the comments resurfacing ahead of the British GP at Silverstone; Formula 1, FIA and Mercedes have released statements in support of Lewis Hamilton
Last Updated: 29/06/22 8:10am
Lewis Hamilton has called for "action" and said "archaic mindsets need to change and have no place in our sport" after former world champion Nelson Piquet used racially abusive language about him.
Piquet twice used a racially offensive expression in Portuguese when referring to Hamilton during a Brazilian podcast last November.
The 69-year-old was discussing the collision between Hamilton and Max Verstappen during the 2021 British GP, with the comments resurfacing on social media ahead of the first anniversary of the crash.
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"The [racist term] put his car there to hit him on purpose," Piquet said.
Later asked if he felt Hamilton would not make the corner at Copse, Piquet went on to say: "Him? Never!
"He wanted to take him out no matter the cost. The [racist term] left the car there to hit him.
"It's because you don't know that bend. It's a very fast one, and two cars can't get through. There's no way two cars can go side by side there. It was a dirty trick!
"He's just lucky that the only other guy got screwed."
In response, Hamilton sent a series of tweets. He said: "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. There has been plenty of time to learn. Time has come for action."
He also tweeted "Vamos focar em mudar a mentalidade", which is Portuguese for "Let's focus on changing the mentality."
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc showed his support for Hamilton and criticised Piquet's comments. Writing on Twitter, he said: "Knowing Lewis since I arrived in Formula 1, he has always been kind and respectful to me and everyone that he meets. Those values should be the standard towards anybody around the world.
"The comments made towards Lewis should not be tolerated, and we should continue to push for a more diverse and inclusive sport. We need to remove discriminatory behaviour and racist language in any form from not just our sport, but our society as well."
McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo also showed his support for Hamilton, posting a message on Instagram that read: "Discrimination and racism has no place in this sport or our society. Those who still choose to spread hate and use those words are no friend of mine.
"I want to acknowledge Lewis and all the work he has done both on and off the track to not only spread messages of equality but combat that hate.
"I've never dealt with any racially motivated actions, but he has for his entire life. Yet, each time his response to the hate is motivated by maturity, positivity and educating the world on how we should act.
"I stand with him and will do whatever I can to follow and support.
Similar sentiments were also echoed by Alpine's Esteban Ocon, who also took to Instagram, writing: "All racist and discriminatory language has absolutely no part in our sport and our society. Enough is enough.
"I've worked and spent time with Lewis over the years and know the kind of person he is. Always genuine and respectful with everyone around him.
"He has done so much for F1, on and off the track, and we are proud to have him at the forefront of our fight for further diversity and inclusion in motorsport.
"I stand with Lewis and his continued efforts to make the sport we love a better place for all."
Piquet's words were also criticised by Formula 1, Mercedes and the FIA.
Formula One said in a statement: "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 team 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."
Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes' trackside engineer, told Sky Sports News: "Having worked with Lewis here for the last 10 years, you can understand a lot of the problems that he will have experienced growing up in motorsport, which for a lot of years was predominately a white-British industry.
"That's why he's put so much of his energy behind changing it and some of the important initiatives we've got here - the Accelerate 25, Lewis's charitable work with Ignite - they're all part of that, but he recognises it takes a lot of time to change prejudice and opinions, that's why these are all long-term programmes."
The FIA, Formula 1's governing body, also released a statement on social media in support of Hamilton, saying: "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."
Piquet is the father of Verstappen's partner, Kelly Piquet.