Lewis Hamilton, a seven-time winner of the Formula One World Championship, has issued a call for “archaic mindsets to change” after a racist remark made about him by Nelson Piquet, a Brazilian triple champion, came to light and prompted worldwide outrage.
Piquet, who is 69 years old, made a racist slur in reference to Hamilton when making a comment about the driver’s crash with Max Verstappen on the opening lap of the British Grand Prix last year. In addition to that, he stated that Hamilton “played dirty” during the event.
Piquet’s daughter Kelly is Verstappen’s partner, and the comments resurfaced as the drivers prepare to return to Silverstone this weekend.
“It’s more than language. These archaic mindsets need to change and have no place in our sport,” Hamilton, who was recently awarded honorary Brazilian citizenship and is the sport’s only Black driver, said on Twitter.
“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.”
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.
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) June 28, 2022
The governing body of motor racing, FIA, together with Formula One and Mercedes all issued statements condemning racism; however, none of the statements specifically mentioned Piquet.
“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,” Formula One said.
Mercedes said Hamilton was “a true champion of diversity on and off-track”, while FIA expressed solidarity and support for the Briton’s “commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion in motorsport”.
Carlos Minc, who served as Brazil’s Minister of the Environment, hailed Lewis Hamilton as a hero and said the driver was instrumental in stopping the clearing of a forest in Rio de Janeiro to build a race track.
Piquet, who won his titles in 1981, 1983, and 1987, has been an outspoken supporter of President Jair Bolsonaro, who is on the far right, and he even drove the presidential Rolls-Royce during a ceremony last year.