Max Verstappen has condemned Nelson Piquet’s “offensive” comments about Lewis Hamilton, but has insisted he’s “definitely not a racist”.
Piquet used a racial slur towards Hamilton in an interview that surfaced this week, which has resulted in a ban from the F1 paddock, according to Sky Sports.
The former Brazilian racer and three-time world champion apologised to Hamilton afterwards, admitting his words were “ill thought out”, but denied any racial intent.
Piquet claimed the term he used was “used colloquially in Brazilian Portuguese as a synonym for ‘guy’ or ‘person’ and was never intended to offend”.
“Everyone is against racism, I think it’s very straight,” Verstappen said.
“I think the wording that was used, even though of course we have different kind of cultures and [they were] things that were said when they were younger, is not correct.
NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JUNE 30: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on June 30, 2022 in Northampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Vince Mignott/MB Media/Getty
Image credit: Eurosport
“Let it be a lesson in the future not to use that word, because it’s very offensive and especially nowadays, it gets even more traction.
“I’ve spent a bit of time with Nelson, and he’s definitely not a racist and he’s actually a really nice and relaxed guy.
“The statement he released, you can see the word in two ways but I think it’s still better not to use it.
“It’s not only about that word, using offensive language to anyone, any colour, is not correct.
“That’s to anyone in the world, not just to Lewis specifically.”
Responding to Piquet’s apology, Hamilton posted on social media that “archaic mindsets need to change,” but questioned why “older voices” continued to be given a platform.
“I’ve been on the receiving end of racism, criticism, negativity, archaic narratives and undertones of discrimination for a long, long time, and there’s nothing really particularly new for me,it’s more about the bigger picture,” he said.
“I don’t know why we are continuing to give these older voices a platform.
“They’re speaking upon our sport and we’re looking to go somewhere completely different. If we’re looking to grow in the US, other countries, South Africa, we need to look to the future and give the younger people a platform, who are more representative of today’s time. It’s not just about one individual, it’s not about the one use of that term, it’s the bigger picture.
“It just comes back down to F1, the media, we should not be giving these people a platform,” he stated. “Discrimination is not something we should be projecting and promoting, giving a platform to divide people.
“We need to be bringing people together, we are all the same.
“It is not helpful, the comments we are seeing from some people. I don’t think there’s been a day gone by where people who are older – who haven’t been relevant in our sport for decades – haven’t being saying negative things and trying to bring me down.
“But I’m still here, I’m still standing strong, I’m focused on my work and really trying to push for diversity and inclusion in our organisation.”
NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JUNE 30: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes attends the press conference during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on June 30, 2022 in Northampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Vince Mignott/M
Image credit: Eurosport
Hamilton said that “older voices” were “not willing to change” when asked if he had lost respect for them in a media briefing ahead of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
“I’ve always tried to take the high road, I’ve always tried to be respectful to these individuals,” he said. “But as I was saying before, why do we give these guys a platform? They’re not with the times, they’re clearly not willing to change.
“These times of discrimination and micro aggressions, in today’s world it’s just not helpful and it’s creating more divide.
“I love how Michelle Obama says ‘when they go low, go high’ so I try to continue to do that, I’m inspired by people like that.
“I’m still here, it’s not going to deter me from what I think is right and doing what I love, which is working in this sport.”
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