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Lewis Hamilton is calling for a change in F1 coverage and conversations after he was on the receiving end of a racial slur by former driver Nelson Piquet.
The seven-time F1 champion spoke on the issue with reporters on Thursday ahead of the British Grand Prix.
“I don’t know why we are continuing to give these older voices a platform because they’re speaking upon our sport, and we’re looking to go somewhere completely different," Hamilton said, per the Associated Press. "And it’s not representative, I think, of who we are as a sport now and where we’re planning to go.
“These old voices, whether subconsciously or consciously, do not agree that people like me, for example, should be in a sport like this, do not agree women should be here. Discrimination is not something we should be projecting or promoting.”
Hamilton didn't mention Piquet by name.
Audio surfaced this week of Piquet repeatedly using a derogatory Portuguese term for Black people to reference Hamilton during a 2021 interview. Piquet, 69, won three F1 championships in the 1980s. He is from Brazil. He made his comments while discussing a battle on the track between Hamilton and Max Verstappen, who won the 2021 driver's championship, ending Hamilton's four-year run atop the standings. Verstappen dates Piquet's daughter, Kelly Piquet.
Piquet addressed his comments in a statement on Wednesday.
"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," his statement reads. "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."
Meanwhile, former F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone, 91, weighed in with his own thoughts on Piquet's comments in an interview with ITV's "Good Morning Britain." He doesn't understand why Hamilton hasn't "just brushed it aside." In the same interview, Ecclestone said that he'd "take a bullet" for Russian President Vladimir Putin and that Putin "believed he was doing the right thing" by invading Ukraine.
"People say things and people talk about people if they happen to be a little bit overweight or a little bit undersized like me," Ecclestone said. "I'm quite sure a lot of people have made remarks about that. If I'd have heard it, I'd have been able to deal with it without too much trouble. I'm surprised that Lewis hasn't sort of just brushed it aside."
Hamilton, like he did with Piquet, declined to mention Ecclestone's name on Thursday. But he appeared to address his comments directly.
“No one should have to brush off racism, and it shouldn’t be for me to brush it off,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton is addressing the controversy as he prepares to race in the British Grand Prix that he's won eight times, including seven of the past eight years.