Max Verstappen says Nelson Piquet is not a racist but needs to learn not to use language that can be offensive to anyone, regardless of race.
Piquet was widely criticized for using a racially-offensive term when referencing Lewis Hamilton on a Brazilian podcast, and has since been banned from the Formula 1 paddock. Piquet was discussing Hamilton’s collision with Verstappen at Silverstone last year, and the Red Bull driver — who is dating Piquet’s daughter Kelly — says it’s a word that shouldn’t be used if it can be in any way offensive, even if the triple world champion claims it was unintentional.
“Everyone is against racism, it’s very straight,” Verstappen said. “There’s nothing more you can make of that. I think the wording that was used, even with the different kind of cultures and things they probably said when they were younger, was not correct. Let it be a lesson for the future not to use that word because it’s very offensive — especially nowadays it gains more traction.
“I’ve spent a bit of time with Nelson, probably more than the average person in general and he’s definitely not a racist. He’s actually a nice and pretty relaxed guy. Also the statement he released, I think you can see the word in two ways but I think it is still just better not to use it.
“But it’s not only about that word; it’s not about the N-word in general, it’s using offensive language to anyone of any color, is not correct. And that’s what we have to work on all over the world, not just in F1 with Lewis but to anyone in the world.”
Verstappen says he hasn’t spoken to Piquet about the incident and nor has he had a chance to discuss it with Hamilton, but says he is in full support of any initiatives to try and eradicate racism.
“I only arrived to the track today. We’re obviously all very busy but we don’t need to talk because he has my respect like any other driver, all the same. He knows how I feel and think about the situation, just like any other driver. Together with F1 and Lewis, we are all behind the initiative already. We’re in full support.”