Skip to main content

3-Time Formula 1 Champion Banned From Paddock After Racist Comment About Lewis Hamilton

F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 12: #44, Lewis Hamilton, GBR, Mercedes AMG F1 Team during the Grand Prix Formula 1 of Abu Dhabi, at Yas Marina Circuit on December 12, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Cristiano Barni ATPImages/Getty Images)

Nelson Piquet, a three-time world champion, made headlines for the wrong reasons this week. The 69-year-old used a racial slur when talking about Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton. 

Piquet's comments about Hamilton were made last November on a podcast. They came to light this week though. 

When discussing Hamilton's collision with Max Verstappen at last year's British Grand Prix, Piquet said the Mercedes star "wanted to take him [Verstappen] out no matter the cost." It's worth noting Piquet is the father of Verstappen's partner, Kelly. 

ESPN is reporting that Piquet has been banned indefinitely from visiting the F1 paddock because of his comments about Hamilton.

On Wednesday, Piquet issued an apology to Hamilton.

"What I said was ill thought out, and I make no defense for it, but I will clarify that the term used is one that has widely and historically been used in Brazilian Portuguese for a synonym for 'guy' or 'person' and was never intended to offend," Piquet said, via ESPN. "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 color. I apologize 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. Discrimination has no place in F1 or society and I am happy to clarify my thoughts in that respect." 

Hamilton shared his thoughts on this inexcusable behavior on social media. 

"It’s more than language," Hamilton tweeted. "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."

Multiple racing teams, such as Alpine, McLaren, Aston Martin and Ferrari have issued statements in support of Hamilton. 

Hamilton's fellow competitors, like Charles Leclerc and Daniel Ricciardo, have also displayed their support in recent days.