Former F1 champion Piquet fined for Hamilton racist comments

Brazil’s Nelson Piquet used racist, homophobic language against Lewis Hamilton, the sport’s only Black driver.

lewis hamilton
Hamilton called for action to change 'archaic mindsets' after footage of the interview surfaced on social media last June [Ozan Kose / Pool/ AFP]

Brazil’s triple Formula One champion Nelson Piquet must pay five million Brazilian reals ($953,050) in moral damages for racist and homophobic comments against Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, a Brazilian court has ruled.

In an interview in November 2021, Piquet used a racial slur referring to the seven-time world champion, when commenting on Hamilton’s British Grand Prix crash with Max Verstappen.

Hamilton called for action to change “archaic mindsets” after footage of the interview surfaced on social media last June.

“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 at the time.

“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.”

Piquet, 70, apologised to Hamilton and said his comments had been mistranslated. Piquet’s daughter Kelly is Verstappen’s partner.

In another clip which surfaced later, Piquet used racist and homophobic language against Hamilton in a podcast when describing how Hamilton missed out on the 2016 championship to Nico Rosberg.

The charges were brought by four human rights groups, including Brazil’s National LGBT+ Alliance, which wanted Piquet to pay 10 million Brazilian reals for alleged moral damages.

In his decision, Judge Pedro Matos de Arruda said the amount of compensation was given “in the sense that one should not only appreciate the reparative function of civil liability but also (and perhaps mainly) the punitive function so that, as a society, we can someday be free from the pernicious acts that are racism and homophobia”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies