Former F1 driver Nelson Piquet has apologized for his racial slur directed at Lewis Hamilton and said his comments were not intended to be racist.
Piquet used a racial slur in Brazilian Portuguese to describe seven-time champion Hamilton when he referred to a high-speed collision involving Hamilton and Max Verstappen during last year’s Silverstone Grand Prix.
Verstappen is dating Piquet’s daughter Kelly.
The racist term was used by the three-time F1 world champion in November last year, but only recently came to light when the interview was published on Monday.
“I would like to clear up the stories circulating in the media about a comment I made in an interview last year,” Piquet said in a statement sent to CNN.
“What I said was poorly thought out, and I’m not defending it, but I will clarify that the term used is one that has been widely and historically used colloquially in Brazilian Portuguese as a synonym for ‘boy’ or ‘person.’ ‘ and never meant to offend.
“I would never use the word that I have been accused of in some translations. I strongly condemn any suggestion that the word was used by me for the purpose of disparaging a driver because of the color of his skin.
READ: ‘Time for action has come’: Teams rally around Hamilton after Piquet hurls racist slurs at F1 driver
“I sincerely apologize to everyone who was affected, including Lewis, who is an incredible driver, but the translation in some media now circulating on social media is not correct.
“Discrimination has no place in F1 or in society and I am happy to clarify my thoughts on this.”
On Tuesday, Formula One, Mercedes and the FIA condemned Piquet for using the racial slur and Hamilton responded to Piquet’s comments in a series of posts on Twitter, writing: “Let’s focus on changing the mentality.” mindset.”
Hamilton, who has the most race wins in F1 history, said “the time has come to act” against racism.
“It is more than a language. These are archaic mentalities. [that] needs to change and has no place in our sport,” Hamilton said on Twitter. “I have been surrounded by these attitudes and directed all my life. There has been a lot of time to learn. The time for action has come.”
Piquet’s comments have been widely condemned in the sport.
His British teammate George Russell spoke in support of his Mercedes teammate.
“Great respect to LH,” he said. wrote on Twitter. “He has done more for the sport than any other driver in history, not just on the track but off it.
“The fact that he and so many others STILL have to deal with this behavior is unacceptable. We must all unite against discrimination of any kind.”
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc also responded to Piquet’s comments, post on twitter:: “I have known Lewis since I came to Formula 1, he has always been extremely respectful to me and to everyone he meets. Those values should be the standard for anyone around the world.
“Comments made towards Lewis should not be tolerated and we must continue to push for a more diverse and inclusive sport. We need to eliminate discriminatory behavior and racist language in any form not only from our sport, but also from our society.”
In a powerful post on his Instagram story, McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo said: “Discrimination and racism have no place in this sport or in our society. Those who still choose to spread hate and use those words are not my friends.
“I want to recognize Lewis and all the work he has done both on and off the track to not only spread messages of equality but also to combat that hate.
“I have never faced any racially motivated action, but he has done so his entire life. However, each time his response to his hate is motivated by maturity, positivity, and educating the world on how we should act. I am with him and I will do my best to follow and support him.”