Nelson Piquet has apologized to Lewis Hamilton for offending him with his language in a podcast but insists the word he used has been wrongly translated.
When discussing Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s clash in the 2021 British Grand Prix, and comparing it to Ayrton Senna colliding with Alain Prost in Japan in 1990, Piquet used the Portuguese term “neguinho” to describe Hamilton. While he has offered an apology to Hamilton, the three-time Formula 1 world champion says translating the term into the n-word in English is incorrect.
“I would like to clear up the stories circulating in the media about a comment I made in an interview last year,” Piquet said in a statement. “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 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 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. Discrimination has no place in F1 or society and I am happy to clarify my thoughts in that respect.”
Formula 1, the FIA, Mercedes and a number of F1 teams came out in support of Hamilton on Tuesday following the circulation of the original quotes, as well as the likes of Charles Leclerc, Daniel Ricciardo and George Russell with statements of their own.
“Knowing Lewis since I arrived in Formula 1, he has always been kind and respectful to me and everyone that he meets,” Leclerc wrote. “Those values should be the standard towards anybody around the world.
“The comments made towards Lewis should not be tolerated, and we should continue to push for a more diverse and inclusive sport. We need to remove discriminatory behavior and racist language in any form from not just our sport, but our society as well.”
Ricciardo added how impressed he has been with the way Hamilton has handled discrimination in the past and tried to use F1 as a platform for progress.
“Discrimination and racism has no place in this sport or our society,” Ricciardo posted. “Those who still choose to spread hate and use those words are no friend of mine. I want to acknowledge Lewis and all the work he has done both on and off the track to not only spread messages of equality but combat that hate.
“I’ve never dealt with any racially motivated actions, but he has for his entire life. Yet, each time his response to the hate is motivated by maturity, positivity and educating the world on how we should act.
“I stand with him and will do whatever I can to follow and support.”
F1 is understood to be considering further action against Piquet including a ban from the paddock, but has so far not come to a decision having been waiting for the Brazilian’s response.