Nelson Piquet apologises to Lewis Hamilton - but denies he used racial slur

Nelson Piquet apologises to Lewis Hamilton - but denies he used racial slur
Nelson Piquet uses racially abusive language to refer to Lewis Hamilton on ...
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Nelson Piquet has apologised "wholeheartedly" to Lewis Hamilton but says his "ill thought out" comment about the driver was not a racial slur against the seven-time Formula One world champion.

The Brazilian three-time world champion was widely condemned for his remarks about the British racing driver that surfaced from a podcast interview in November last year when discussing the crash the Mercedes driver had with Red Bull rival Max Verstappen at last season's British Grand Prix in Silverstone.

"I would like to clear up the stories circulating in the media about a comment I made in an interview last year," the 69-year-old said in a statement, The Independentreported.

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"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."

He continued: “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 with the aim of belittling a driver because of his skin colour.

"Discrimination has no place in F1 or society and I am happy to clarify my thoughts in that respect.”

“I apologise wholeheartedly to anyone that was affected, including Lewis, who is an incredible driver, but the translation in some media that is now circulating on social media is not correct,"

Since Piquet's racist remarks came to light, Hamilton has said in response that "These archaic mindsets need to change," and that the "Time has come for action."

"Let's focus on changing the mindset," he added.

“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,” F1 said in a statement.

"His [Hamilton’s] tireless efforts to increase diversity and inclusion are a lesson to many and something we are committed to at F1."

The FIA (the governing body for motorsport) also condemned Piquet and the racist language he used in a statement:

"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 @LewisHamilton and fully support his commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion in motor sport," it said.

It is understood that Piquet’s access to the paddock at F1 races could be revoked if he doesn’t issue a public apology to Hamilton, as The Independentreported (per PA).

Hamilton has also received support from his Mercedes team as well as F1 rivals Ferrari, McLaren and Aston Martin.

George Russell also backed up his Mercedes teammate, along with fellow F1 drivers Charles Leclerc, Daniel Ricciardo, Esteban Ocon, Mick Schumacher, Zhou Guanyu, Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris, Pierre Gasly and Nicholas Latifi who all have all gotten behind Hamilton.

It's not the first time that Piquet - whose daughter Kelly Piquet is dating Verstappen - has caused offence with his controversial remarks as during his career he publicly questioned the sexuality of racing rival Ayrton Senna and called him "the Sao Paulo taxi driver."

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