Nelson Piquet faces F1 ban unless he apologises to Lewis Hamilton for racist outburst

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Lewis Hamilton - F1 condemn Nelson Piquet’s racist abuse of Lewis Hamilton - GETTY IMAGES
Lewis Hamilton - F1 condemn Nelson Piquet’s racist abuse of Lewis Hamilton - GETTY IMAGES

Three-time world champion Nelson Piquet faces a potential ban from all Formula 1 races if he fails to apologise to Lewis Hamilton over his racist outburst, Telegraph Sport understands.

As a former title winner, Piquet is allowed access throughout the season, but his privileges are now under serious threat after he twice used the derogatory Portuguese phrase “neguinho" while discussing Hamilton.

F1 declined to speculate on specific sanctions, but senior racing insiders say Piquet cannot be seen on the paddock again if he does not publicly apologise and speak to Hamilton directly.

F1, the FIA and Mercedes have rallied behind Hamilton amid an escalating furore just days before the British Grand Prix. The seven-time world champion had earlier described racist attitudes he had faced throughout his time in the sport, adding that the “archaic mindset” of Piquet has “no place in our sport”.

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 on a podcast.

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 said: “The neguinho put the car in the wrong way and didn't let [the other driver swerve]."

Piquet added: “The neguinho put the car in the wrong way on the corner, it's because you don't know the curve. It's a very high curve, there is no way to pass two cars and there's no way you can put the car aside. He did [Verstappen] dirty. His luck was that only the other one was gone."

Hamilton issued a damning response on Twitter, posting a message in Portuguese that translated to “Let's focus on changing the mindset”.

He then added: “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.”

This weekend's race at Silverstone is the anniversary of the first of a series of clashes between Hamilton and Verstappen. Piquet, the father of Verstappen's partner Kelly Piquet, has a history of unsavoury outbursts. During his driving career, he questioned Ayrton Senna's sexuality. He also called his rival “the Sao Paulo taxi driver".

An F1 statement said of Piquet's comments about Hamilton: “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.”

Hamilton's team Mercedes said: “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.

“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.”

Hamilton’s team-mate, George Russell, also spoke out against Piquet’s comments. He 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.”

The FIA 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.”

Hamilton’s team-mate, George Russell, also spoke out against Piquet’s comments. He 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.”

The FIA 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.”

Piquet had also compared the collision between Hamilton and Verstappen to the title-deciding crash involving Senna and Alain Prost at the Japanese Grand Prix back in 1990. “Senna didn't do that," added Piquet. “Senna went straight. Straight. He [Hamilton]? Never, no, he went like: 'Here, I hate him any way'.”

Last week Sir Jackie Stewart urged Hamilton to retire from Formula 1 to protect his legacy, adding it was “a pity” he did not go out at the top.

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