Seven-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has called for “archaic mindsets to change” after a racist remark about him by Brazilian triple champion Nelson Piquet emerged, triggering widespread condemnation.
Piquet, 69, used a racial slur when referring to Hamilton while commenting on the driver’s British Grand Prix crash with Max Verstappen on the opening lap last year. He also said Hamilton had “played dirty” in the incident.
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Piquet’s daughter Kelly is Verstappen’s partner, and the comments resurfaced as the drivers prepare to return to Silverstone this weekend.
“It’s more than language. These archaic mindsets need to change and have no place in our sport,” Hamilton, who was recently awarded honorary Brazilian citizenship and is the sport’s only Black driver, said on Twitter.
“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.”
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.
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) June 28, 2022
Motor racing’s governing body FIA, Formula One and Mercedes all issued statements condemning racism but without mentioning Piquet by name.
“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,” Formula One said.
Mercedes said Hamilton was “a true champion of diversity on and off track”, while FIA expressed solidarity and support for the Briton’s “commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion in motor sport”.
Piquet’s press team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
it’s always “we stand with lewis hamilton bc of how much he does to the sport”, never “bc he’s just a human being and should be treated with the respect he deserves”
— gab (@maxyverstappen1) June 28, 2022
Brazil’s former Environmental Minister Carlos Minc called Hamilton a hero and said the driver had helped in the fight against the clearing of a forest to build a circuit in Rio de Janeiro.
Piquet, who won his titles in 1981, 1983 and 1987, has been a vocal supporter of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and drove the presidential Rolls-Royce during a ceremony last year.