Former Formula 1 driver Nelson Piquet has been ordered to pay a fine of 5 million Brazilian reals (approximately $950,000) after using a racial slur about seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton. Piquet used the derogatory term during a Brazilian podcast in November 2021 whilst discussing Hamilton‘s clash with Max Verstappen at the British Grand Prix. The 70-year-old apologised following his comments, stating they were “ill thought out” and offered no defence. However, four human rights groups pursued a lawsuit against Piquet for moral damages, and the judge imposed the fine for both reparatory and punitive purposes.
Hamilton, the only Black F1 driver and champion, issued a response on social media at the time, stating that “these archaic mindsets need to change and have no place in our sport.” Hamilton has repeatedly spoken out against racism and discrimination in motorsport, and has been instrumental in leading efforts to improve diversity and inclusion. He established The Hamilton Commission, which published a report on the representation of Black people in motorsport. In alignment with this effort, Hamilton and Mercedes launched the Ignite charity aimed at introducing more students from underrepresented backgrounds to STEM education.
Piquet’s comments were widely condemned in the F1 paddock, and he was subsequently barred from the paddock and suspended as an honorary member of the British BRDC. Hamilton, on the other hand, was made an honorary citizen of Brazil ahead of last year’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix.