By Andrew Benson | BBC News |
Lewis Hamilton has said “archaic mindsets need to change” and have no place in Formula 1 after three-time world champion Nelson Piquet used racially abusive language about him.
The 69-year-old Brazilian, who won the world title in 1981, 1983 and 1987, used a racially offensive term to refer to Hamilton in a podcast.
Piquet has been condemned by Formula 1, Hamilton’s Mercedes team and the FIA.
“It’s more than language,” said seven-time world champion Hamilton.
“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.”
Piquet was discussing the accident between Hamilton and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen on the first lap of last year’s British Grand Prix.
He described the incident as “a joke”, said Hamilton had been “lucky” only Verstappen crashed, and used a swear word in expressing his opinion that Hamilton had made a mistake.
This weekend’s British Grand Prix is the first anniversary of the incident, which was one of a series between the two drivers as they disputed last year’s world title – a championship decided in controversial circumstances at the 2021 finale in Abu Dhabi.
An F1 statement said: “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.”
It added: “His tireless efforts to increase diversity and inclusion are a lesson to many and something we are committed to at F1.”
Piquet, who is the father of Verstappen’s partner Kelly Piquet, has a history of making unsavoury and unpleasant statements. During his driving career, he publicly questioned Ayrton Senna’s sexuality and called his rival “the Sao Paulo taxi driver”.
He also made offensive comments about Nigel Mansell and the Briton’s wife when they were team-mates at Williams.
“We condemn in the strongest terms any use of racist or discriminatory language of any kind,” said Mercedes. “Lewis has spearheaded our sport’s efforts to combat racism, and he is a true champion of diversity on and off track.
“Together, we share a vision for a diverse and inclusive motorsport, and this incident underlines the fundamental importance of continuing to strive for a brighter future.”
The FIA, motorsport’s governing body, said: “The FIA strongly condemns any racist or discriminatory language and behaviour, which have no place in sport or wider society.
“We express our solidarity with Lewis Hamilton and fully support his commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion in motor sport.”