Lewis Hamilton has criticised “archaic mindsets” that need to change after claims emerged that former Formula 1 world champion Nelson Piquet used a racist slur towards him.
Reports from Brazil claim an interview conducted following the 2021 British Grand Prix has surfaced in which Piquet, 69, uses a racial epithet about the seven-time champion.
The Brazilian - himself a former world champion - is reported to have been discussing a collision between Hamilton and his title rival Max Verstappen which saw the Dutch driver retire from the race.
The comments have only just come to light and Stevenage-born Hamilton addressed them on his Twitter account on Tuesday.
The Mercedes driver posted: “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.”
He had earlier tweeted in Portuguese “Vamos focar em mudar a mentalidade”, translated as “Let’s focus on changing the mindset”.
Hamilton's intervention came just a few hours before the Red Bull F1 team announced it had sacked its reserve driver Juri Vips over a separate incident in which he used a racist slur in an online gaming stream.
Formula 1 had already issued a statement supporting Hamilton.
“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,” it read.
“His tireless efforts to increase diversity and inclusion are a lesson to many and something we are committed to at F1."
Hamilton and his Mercedes team are preparing for the 2022 British Grand Prix at Silverstone this weekend.
Mercedes highlighted the alleged comments as a reason to “strive for a brighter future”.
“We condemn in the strongest terms any use of racist or discriminatory language of any kind,” their statement read.
“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."
Piquet, who is the father of Verstappen’s current girlfriend, has been contacted by the PA news agency for comment.
Hamilton has been a powerful voice for equality in Formula 1, spearheading the drivers' practice of taking the knee before races following the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, and encouraging his Mercedes team to swap their silver livery for black in the previous two seasons.
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