Jerome Bogmer, The Associated Press
PARIS – Lewis Hamilton has claimed that “old mentalities” need to change after a possible racist slur from retired champion Nelson Piquet.
Hamilton made his comments after F1 and the FIA condemned racist language.
It is more than just a matter of language. These old mentalities must change and have no place in our sport. Hamilton tweeted on Tuesday, I’ve been surrounded by these situations and targeting my whole life. There was plenty of time to learn. It’s time to work “.
The only black driver in Formula 1, Hamilton is a seven-time world champion.
He also wrote in Portuguese, “Vamos focar em mudar a Mentalidade” (let’s focus on changing mindset), responding to another tweet that used a profanity about Piquet, a 69-year-old Brazilian who has won three F1 titles.
Pique was discussing an incident between Hamilton and Max Verstappen at last year’s British Grand Prix when Pique used the word “Niguinho” – meaning “little black man” – in November on YouTube called Inerto.
The word isn’t necessarily a racial insult in Brazil, but it’s an expression that is increasingly seen as hateful, and its phrasing can highlight it, too.
Pique’s comment didn’t go viral at the time, but it did happen suddenly on Monday, although it’s unclear why long after the interview.
Pique is a strong supporter of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right politician who is seeking re-election within 100 days.
“Discriminatory or racist language is in any way unacceptable and has no place in society. Lewis is a wonderful ambassador for our sport and deserves respect. His tireless efforts to increase diversity and inclusion are a lesson to many and something we cherish at F1,” he said in a statement.
Hamilton has tirelessly campaigned against racism and has been outspoken about human rights abuses in countries that race Formula One.
The FIA also defended Hamilton.
The FIA wrote strongly condemning any racist or discriminatory language and behavior that has no place in sport or in society in general. We express our solidarity with @LewisHamilton and fully support his commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion in motorsport.”
Hamilton’s Mercedes team – known as the Silver Arrows – switched from the silver car to the all-black car in 2020 to support Hamilton’s anti-racism efforts. Hamilton and most drivers hit the knee ahead of the 2020 and 2021 races as a sign of the fight against racism. Hamilton also established the Hamilton Committee to Improve Diversity in Formula One.
“We condemn in the strongest terms any use of racist or discriminatory language of any kind. Mercedes made clear on Twitter that Lewis has led our sport’s efforts to combat racism, and is a true champion of diversity both on and off the track. Together we share a vision for diverse and inclusive motorsport, and this incident underscores the fundamental importance of continuing The struggle for a better future.”
Two years ago, Hamilton criticized former Formula One coach Bernie Ecclestone’s “ignorant and uneducated” comments. Hamilton was shocked by Ecclestone’s claim in an interview with CNN that “blacks are in many cases more racist” than whites.
Pique was a three-time world champion in the 1980s and won 23 races. His daughter Kelly Pique is Verstappen’s girlfriend.
The British Grand Prix is presented this weekend at Silverstone.