Formula 1, the FIA and the Mercedes F1 Team have all condemned racism across the sport this morning following comments made by ex-world champion Nelson Piquet. The team, sport, and its governing body have all rightly come out against the racist language used by Piquet in a podcast that saw him discuss Lewis Hamilton’s performance at the British Grand Prix last year.
Piquet was speaking in November to Motorsport Talk’s Ricardo Oliveira in Portuguese about Hamilton’s clash with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen at the British Grand Prix in 2021, which ended with the Dutch driver going off the track and suffering a major impact with the barriers.
The video of the interview was picked up by Brazilian media including CNN, which reported his words as he referred to the incident. It included an epithet that can be translated as the N-word.
Now, Formula 1 has called out the racist language used by Piquet, and said it has “no part in society.” A statement released by the sport on Twitter reads:
“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.
“His tireless efforts to increase diversity and inclusion are a lesson to many and something we are committed to at F1.”
This is a message that has since been echoed by the sport’s governing body, the FIA. Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team has also released a statement condemning “in the strongest terms any use of racist or discriminatory language of any kind.”
As well as Hamilton’s own team, the Ferrari F1 squad has shown its support for the seven-time champion on Twitter. Piquet’s old Williams team and current championship leaders Red Bull are yet to comment on the matter.
But so far, in response to the use of a racist slur by Piquet, his name has not come up in any of these rebuttals. Neither the team, the FIA nor Formula 1 make any mention of their words being in response to his awful choice of words.
Which begs the question, is this it? Just because Piquet has three world titles under his belt does that mean he can toss around slurs without any ramifications from the sport itself? Formula 1 must take proper action to show that attitudes like this have no place in the paddock.
Clearly, that is also a belief shared by Hamilton himself, who took to Twitter this morning to share his outrage at Piquet’s comments. He wrote:
“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.”
And it’s true, Hamilton has always been treated differently to other drivers in the paddock. And despite becoming statistically the most successful F1 driver of all time, there are still high-profile figures in F1 that don’t think he should be there.
In the last week alone, he’s been on the receiving end of calls to quit from ex-F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone. And three-time champ Jackie Stewart said that maybe it was time for Hamilton join the fashion industry instead.
This is all after one bad start to a season. Do you know who hasn’t had similar calls to quit after a ropey start to the year? Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, who hasn’t had a convincing title fight in more than five years, and Fernando Alonso, who is yet to win a race following his comeback with Alpine.
Why aren’t these same people calling for those drivers to hang up their boots?