F1's Nelson Piquet must pay £780,000 after racist and homophobic Lewis Hamilton comments

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Brazil's triple Formula One champion Nelson Piquet must pay £780,000 in damages for making racist and homophobic comments about Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

In an interview in November 2021, Piquet used a racial slur referring to the seven-time world champion, when commenting on Hamilton's British Grand Prix crash with Max Verstappen. Piquet's daughter Kelly is the partner of Hamilton's rival, Verstappen.

The 70-year-old former racer was said to have used language that's equivalent or similar to the N-word.

In another clip that surfaced later, Piquet used racist and homophobic language about Hamilton in a podcast interview when describing how Hamilton missed out on the 2016 championship to Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton called for action to change "archaic mindsets" after footage of the interview surfaced on social media last June. Piquet apologised to the British driver but said his comments had been mistranslated.

"What I said was ill thought out, and I make no defence for it, but I will clarify that 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," he said at the time.

"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."

But a Brazilian court disagreed and has ruled he must pay five million Brazilian reals (£780,000) in "moral damages" for the comments.

Hamilton, who was awarded honorary Brazilian citizenship last June, is the sport's only black driver.

In his decision, Judge Pedro Matos de Arrudo said the amount of compensation was given "in the sense that one should not only appreciate the reparative function of civil liability but also (and perhaps mainly) the punitive function so that, as a society, we can someday be free from the pernicious acts that are racism and homophobia".

Piquet banned from the paddock

The charges were brought by four human rights groups, including Brazil's National LGBT+ Alliance, which wanted Piquet to pay 10 million Brazilian Reals for alleged moral damages.

Sky Sports News understands that Piquet will not be allowed back into the F1 paddock after his comments.

After Piquet's remarks initially came to light, Formula 1's governing body and Hamilton's team Mercedes immediately condemned "in the strongest terms any use of racist or discriminatory language of any kind".

Hamilton also responded, tweeting: "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."