Lewis Hamilton queries roles of ‘older voices’ in F1 as Piquet banned over racial slur

Nelson Piquet, left, has apologised over using a racist slur about Lewis Hamilton. Credit: PA
Nelson Piquet (left) and Lewis Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton has questioned “why we are giving the older voices a platform” following former F1 world champion Nelson Piquet’s use of a racial slur against the British driver.

The 69-year-old Brazilian apologised “wholeheartedly” but insisted the word he used had been mistranslated.

Hamilton, speaking ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone, said: “I don’t know why we are giving the older voices a platform.

“We are looking to go somewhere different and they are not representative of who we are now in the sport.

“If we are looking to grow our audiences and give the younger people a platform that are more representative of today’s times… it is not just about one individual or the use of that term but the bigger picture.”

Hamilton continued: “I am incredibly grateful to all of those who have been supportive within the sport, particularly the drivers.

“It has been two years since many of us took the knee at the first race in Austria and we are still faced with challenges.

“I have been on the receiving end of racism and criticism and that negativity and archaic narratives for a long time and undertones of discrimination, so there is nothing new for me.”

The British Racing Drivers’ Club have suspended Piquet’s membership with immediate effect following the slur incident.

In a statement issued ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone, the BRDC, which owns the Northamptonshire circuit, said it anticipated Piquet’s membership will be terminated at a board meeting next month.

A statement read: “The BRDC board of directors has noted that, in a Brazilian podcast last November, Nelson Piquet Senior, an honorary member of the BRDC, described Lewis Hamilton using a racially offensive expression in Portuguese. The apology issued yesterday by Mr Piquet Sr has also been noted.

“In view of the BRDC’s zero-tolerance policy towards any act involving or suggesting racism, the BRDC Board has concluded that Mr Piquet Sr’s use of racially offensive language to describe a fellow BRDC member (and seven-time world champion) is unacceptable and represents conduct that is wholly inappropriate for an honorary member of the BRDC, notwithstanding his subsequent apology.

“Accordingly, we have advised Mr Piquet Sr that his membership has been suspended with immediate effect.

“Following the club’s due process, it is anticipated that the board will terminate Mr Piquet Sr’s membership at a board meeting to be held after the required seven-day notice period.”

Responding to Piquet’s slur, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel said: “It is probably what [Hamilton's] family and he has been through his entire life.

“Any abuse is wrong so it was great to see the response from the F1 community to express their support on the matter towards Lewis.

“There should not be any room for these kind of comments and we still have a lot to do.

“We have come further than years ago, but it doesn’t help that these things are out there and people are using inappropriate language.

“It is very important to talk about it because it has not gone and it will not be gone overnight. It is a bigger matter, and F1 has to address these issues.

“More than language, is how we behave, and include everyone no matter what colour you are or what type of partner you have, and what sexual orientation you are.

“Any community is welcome and we should always respond in that way and make it clear we are open to anyone.”

Lewis Hamilton has been a powerful voice for equality in Formula 1. Credit: PA

What did Nelson Piquet say about Lewis Hamilton?

Reports in Brazil claim an interview conducted following the 2021 British Grand Prix has surfaced in which Piquet, 69, uses a racial epithet.

The Brazilian is reported to have been discussing a collision between Hamilton and his title-rival Max Verstappen which saw the Dutchman retire from the race.

The comments have only just come to light and Formula One issued a statement immediately supporting seven-time champion Hamilton.

Piquet said in a statement: “I would like to clear up the stories circulating in the media about a comment I made in an interview last year.

“What I said was ill thought out, and I make no defence 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 apologise 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.”

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