Nelson Piquet banned by F1 after claiming Lewis Hamilton slur was 'mistranslated'

·3 min read
Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes talks to the media in the Paddock prior to practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Canada at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 17, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec - Clive Rose/Getty Images
Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes talks to the media in the Paddock prior to practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Canada at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 17, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec - Clive Rose/Getty Images

Three-time world champion Nelson Piquet is to be barred from the Formula 1 paddock after his apology to Lewis Hamilton failed to persuade bosses to spare him a ban.

Piquet had been under intense pressure to contact Hamilton directly to say sorry, but, in a statement on Wednesday, the 69-year-old claimed his comments were mistranslated.

Having digested the Brazilian's statement, racing chiefs are understood to have reached the conclusion that he should have his racing access privileges taken away.

Telegraph Sport had reported on Tuesday how Piquet was facing a ban from the paddock if he failed to seek out Hamilton and apologise directly.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Piquet sought to clear up his podcast outburst in November 2021 when he twice used the derogatory Portuguese phrase "neguinho" while discussing Hamilton.

Although he admitted his use of the term were "ill thought out" and said he made "no defence" for it, he also attempted to clarify the usage of his words, blaming mistranslations.

"The term used is one that has widely and historically been used colloquially in Brazilian Portuguese as a synonym for 'guy' or 'person' and was never intended to offend," a statement read.

"I would never use the word I have been accused of in some translations. I strongly condemn any suggestion that the word was used by me with the aim of belittling a driver because of his skin colour."

He added: "I apologise wholeheartedly to anyone that was affected, including Lewis, who is an incredible driver, but the translation in some media that is now circulating on social media is not correct,” Piquet added. "Discrimination has no place in F1 or society and I am happy to clarify my thoughts in that respect."

Piquet, 69, who won the world title in 1981, 1983 and 1987, used the offensive language while referring to the seven-time champion's tussles with Max Verstappen.

He had been asked about Hamilton managing to claim victory at Silverstone despite tangling with Verstappen on the opening lap, leaving the Dutchman eventually crashing into the barriers and being taken to hospital. In footage shared by Brazilian publication Estadao, Piquet, whose daughter Kelly is Verstappen’s girlfriend, said: "The neguinho put the car in the wrong way and didn't let [the other driver swerve]."

On Wednesday Hamilton had posted his own thoughts on the issue. "Let's focus on changing on the mindset," he wrote in Portuguese on Twitter.

The sport had rallied behind Hamilton after the re-emergence of the comments, although F1 failed to mention Piquet by name.

F1 described Hamilton as an "incredible ambassador" whose "tireless efforts to increase diversity and inclusion are a lesson to many and something we are committed to at F1."

Hamilton's team-mate George Russell wrote on Twitter: “Huge respect to LH [Hamilton]. He has done more for the sport than any driver in history, not just on track but off it. The fact that he and so many others are STILL having to deal with this behaviour is unacceptable. We all need to stand together against discrimination of any kind.”

Earlier in the week Red Bull sacked their reserve driver Juri Vips - who had driven in first practice at the Spanish Grand Prix this year - after an investigation into a video showed him using racist language during a livestream of a video game

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