Former Formula 1 champion Nelson Piquet called Lewis Hamilton the N-word in an interview about the racing between Hamilton and Max Verstappen during the 2021 season.
The Brazilian three-time champion and father of Verstappen's girlfriend Kelly used the racial slur on a podcast while discussing the battle between Hamilton and Max Verstappen at the British Grand Prix in 2021. Hamilton and Verstappen made contact on the first lap and Verstappen's car crashed hard as a result. Hamilton went on to win the race. Verstappen won the title on the final lap of the season thanks to a series of controversial decisions by F1 officials.
Piquet’s offensive language was quickly disseminated by media outlets Monday and condemned by Formula 1 and Hamilton’s Mercedes team. The 2022 British Grand Prix is Sunday.
“Discriminatory or racist language is unacceptable in any form and has no part in society,” Formula 1 said. “Lewis is an incredible ambassador for our sport and deserves respect. His tireless efforts to increase diversity and inclusion are a lesson to many and something we are committed to at F1.”
Hamilton is the winningest driver in Formula 1 history and tied with Michael Schumacher with seven championships. He tweeted in Portuguese on Tuesday morning for people to focus on changing the mindset of racism.
Hamilton, 37, is the lone Black driver in Formula 1 and has been the only Black man on the grid throughout his entire career.
"We condemn in the strongest terms any use of racist or discriminatory language of any kind," Mercedes said. "Lewis has spearheaded our sport's efforts to combat racism and he is a true champion of diversity on and off track. Together we share a vision for a diverse and inclusive motorsport and this incident underlines the fundamental importance of continuing to strive for a brighter future."
Hamilton has talked at length throughout his career about the racism that he has faced in motorsports and continues to push F1 to be a more inclusive environment. He has publicly supported Black Lives Matter and other social justice causes at races and wore a shirt supporting Breonna Taylor after winning in September of 2020.
Piquet won the 1981, 1983 and 1987 Formula 1 titles and has a history of making unsavory comments. His comments came to light less than a week after Red Bull Racing suspended junior driver Juri Vips for his use of the N-word during a video game livestream. The team announced Tuesday that Vips had been released after its investigation and said that it didn't condone any form of racism.