Formula One condemned racist language after a slur reportedly directed at Lewis Hamilton by retired champion Nelson Piquet.
Piquet was discussing a crash between Hamilton and Max Verstappen during last year’s British Grand Prix when the 69-year-old Brazilian referenced the color of Hamilton’s skin with a discriminatory term during a podcast in November.
“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,” F1 said in a statement on Tuesday. “His tireless efforts to increase diversity and inclusion are a lesson to many and something we are committed to at F1.”
Hamilton is the only Black driver in F1. The seven-time world champion has campaigned tirelessly to fight racism and has been outspoken on human rights abuses in countries where F1 goes racing.
Motorsport governing body FIA also defended Hamilton.
“The FIA strongly condemns any racist or discriminatory language and behavior, which have no place in sport or wider society,” the FIA said. “We express our solidarity with @LewisHamilton and fully support his commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion in motor sport.”
Hamilton’s Mercedes team – known as the Silver Arrows – switched from silver to an all-black car in 2020 to support Hamilton’s efforts to combat racism. Hamilton and most drivers took a knee before races in 2020 and 2021 as an anti-racism gesture. Hamilton also set up The Hamilton Commission to improve F1’s diversity.
“We condemn in the strongest terms any use of racist or discriminatory language of any kind. Lewis has spearheaded our sport’s efforts to combat racism, and he is a true champion of diversity on and off track,” Mercedes said on Twitter. “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.”
Piquet clinched the F1 title three times in the 1980s and won 23 races. His daughter Kelly Piquet is Verstappen’s girlfriend.
The British GP is this weekend.