The condemnation facing Nelson Piquet has escalated as evidence of further racist and also homophobic slurs he has made against Lewis Hamilton has emerged. The Briton had already demanded the sport take action to combat racism and called for a change to the “archaic mindset” in the sport.
On Monday an interview from a podcast in 2021 was released of Piquet using a racial slur to describe Hamilton. The three-time champion in the 1980s was roundly vilified by the sport, with F1 and the FIA issuing statements condemning racism. The Brazilian, whose daughter is the partner of Max Verstappen, has since been banned from the F1 paddock for life. Piquet had issued a statement saying his words had been “ill thought-out” but denying they were racist, claiming they had been mistranslated. His arguments were given little credence and now look all but hollow as further footage has emerged.
The Brazilian website Grande Prêmio said it had obtained a full copy of November’s podcast and in it Piquet repeated the racist epithet and added a homophobic slur, when discussing his former rival Keke Rosberg, his son Nico and Hamilton, who drove with the younger Rosberg. F1 had no intention of revoking its ban on Piquet despite his statement and these further details will surely ensure he never returns to the F1 paddock. “Discriminatory or racist language is unacceptable in any form and has no part in society,” F1 stated after the first comments were made public.
Hamilton addressed the issue at Silverstone as he prepared for this weekend’s British Grand Prix, noting that he was frustrated that many former drivers were wholly out of touch and increasingly irrelevant. “I have been on the receiving end of racism and that negative and, archaic narratives and undertones of discrimination,” he said. “I am not sure why we are continuing to give these older people a platform. They are speaking on the sport but we are looking to go in a different direction. It’s the bigger picture.”
Hamilton has for the moment also ended his long-running stand-off with the FIA over removing his piercings while driving. Since April the FIA’s strict enforcement of its rule banning drivers from wearing jewellery in the car has been at odds with Hamilton, who has said he would not remove his nose stud.
The issue has been put on hold twice since then under medical exemptions and Hamilton could have faced a potential ban from racing had it not been resolved but the FIA has now confirmed Hamilton has removed the piercing for practice at the British Grand Prix.
First practice at Silverstone proved to be of little purpose for the drivers, with teams largely opting not to run in the rain. When the sun came out for the second session, however, there was reason for considerable optimism at Mercedes. The team have brought a raft of upgrades to the meeting and Hamilton was second on the timesheets to Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, just over a tenth back from the Spaniard. McLaren’s Lando Norris was third, with Verstappen, Red Bull’s championship leader, in fourth, two tenths down.