On a Brazilian podcast last year, when talking about Lewis Hamilton’s crash with Max Verstappen, Nelson Piquet Sr. used the Portuguese phrase ‘neguinho’ to refer to the Briton. While the comments were made last year, they have only recently come to light and led to outrage against the Brazilian.
Understandably, people are not pleased that Piquet used the term, which translates to the n-word in English (which is considered a racial slur). The FIA, teams, drivers, and, famous people from Brazil such as Paulo Coelho have rallied in support of the 7-time world champion, and Piquet has been much criticized on social media as well.
Lewis Hamilton has come out with his statement on the racist comment made by Piquet, and on Twitter, 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.”
Fans demand a Paddock ban for life for Nelson Piquet
After the severe backlash against his comments, Nelson Piquet Sr. issued a statement, apologizing for the comments he made, but emphasizing that they had not been made with racist intent. As reported by The Sun, Piquet said:
“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 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 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.”
Piquet’s statement has been interpreted as ‘making excuses’ for what he had said, and fans feel that it is a wholly inadequate apology. They demand ‘severe repercussions’ against Piquet. There was a threat of a lifetime ban for Piquet for the racist comments, and it seems that it may materialize.
Motorsport and BBC Sport’s Andrew Benson reported that their sources inside Formula 1 have told them that Piquet will not be allowed into the paddock again.