A Brazilian court has ordered triple Formula One champion Nelson Piquet to pay $953,050 in moral damages for making racist and anti-gay comments against Black driver Lewis Hamilton. Piquet used a racial slur in an interview last November when discussing Hamilton‘s British Grand Prix crash with Max Verstappen. After footage of the interview emerged on social media, Hamilton called for action to change “archaic mindsets.” Piquet apologized to Hamilton and claimed his comments had been mistranslated. However, another clip emerged in which Piquet used further racist and anti-gay language against Hamilton in a podcast interview.
Hamilton, who is the sport’s only Black driver, was awarded honorary Brazilian citizenship in June 2021. The charges against Piquet were brought by four human rights groups, including Brazil’s National LGBT+ Alliance, which called for him to pay 10 million Brazilian Reals for alleged moral damages.
Piquet’s daughter Kelly is the partner of Max Verstappen, with whom Hamilton collided during the British Grand Prix. In his ruling, Judge Pedro Matos de Arrudo said the compensation amount was intended “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.”
The $953,050 compensation amount is equivalent to five million Brazilian Reals. In the wake of the ruling, Hamilton‘s Mercedes team released a statement saying they “condemn racism and discrimination in all forms and stand with those who are actively working towards a more inclusive future”.