Lewis Hamilton has responded to apparent racial comments made towards him by Nelson Piquet, saying “these archaic mindsets need to change”.
In a video released by Brazilian publication Estadao, three-time World Champion Piquet was featured calling Hamilton a ‘neguinho’ – a racial term in Portuguese.
“The neguinho put the car in the wrong way on the corner,” Piquet said when referring to the accident between the Mercedes driver and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen at last year’s British Grand Prix, with Piquet accusing Hamilton of sending his rival into the barriers on purpose.
Widespread condemnation of Piquet’s remarks
Condemnation of Piquet’s remarks was swift and widespread. In a message issued to media including RacingNews365.com, an F1 spokesperson condemned the former driver’s racial slurs and praised Hamilton’s efforts and commitment.
“Discriminatory or racist language is unacceptable in any form and has no part in society,” read the message.
“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.”
Mercedes also took to social media to “condemn in the strongest terms any use of racist or discriminatory language of any kind”.
“These mindsets need to change”
Following the statements from F1 and Mercedes, Hamilton himself responded to the comments on his Twitter page.
“It’s more than language,” the seven-time World Champion wrote.
“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.”
Hamilton campaigning for social justice
In recent years, Hamilton has become a vocal critic of social inequality, from being at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter movement, to campaigning for greater minority involvement within F1 itself.
Last week, the Briton took to Instagram to criticise the United States Supreme Court over its ruling to remove the nationwide right to an abortion.
During the 2020 season, Hamilton also wore a t-shirt calling for the arrest of the police officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor as part of an investigation into drug dealing operations in Louisville, Kentucky.