Piquet apologises for Hamilton comment, claims no racial intent

Nelson Piquet Sr has issued an apology for the language he used against Mercedes Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton, but denies it had any racial intent.

Piquet apologises for Hamilton comment, claims no racial intent

Comments from three-time F1 world champion Piquet given in an interview last year surfaced this week, among which he used a racial slur against Hamilton.

It led to widespread condemnation through the F1 community, including a rebuttal from both F1 and the FIA. Sources have also now confirmed to Autosport that Piquet will not be allowed back in the F1 paddock in light of his comments.

Seven-time F1 world champion Hamilton said it was “time for change” to shift “archaic mindsets”.

Piquet has now issued a statement in which he said he wanted to “clear up the stories circulating in the media about a comment I made in an interview last year.”

Although Piquet admitted that what he said “was ill thought out, and I make no defence for it”, he claimed the term he 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.”

“I would never use the word I have been accused of in some translations,” Piquet said.

“I strongly condemn any suggestion that the word was used by me with the aim of belittling a driver because of his skin colour.

“I apologise wholeheartedly to anyone that was affected, including Lewis, who is an incredible driver.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, 3rd position, with his trophy

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, 3rd position, with his trophy

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

“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.”

Despite Piquet’s claim, native speakers from Motorsport.com’s Brazilian edition confirmed the word he used is a pejorative that carries racial meaning.

Piquet won F1 titles in 1981, 1983 and 1987, but had a reputation for using offensive language towards other drivers.

The 1996 world champion Damon Hill told Autosport earlier on Wednesday that Piquet was “a bit of an acquired taste, and I didn’t really acquire the taste,” saying his latest comments were “beyond the pale now”.

Nelson Piquet Sr’s statement in full

I would like to clear up the stories circulating in the media about a comment I made in an interview last year.

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.

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.

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

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