BRAZIL: Brazilian three-time F1 World Champion Nelson Piquet has been fined 5,000,000 Brazilian Reals (£780,000) by a court in Brazil for making racist and homophobic comments against F1 legend Lewis Hamilton. The court ruled in Piquet’s case on Friday, following a lawsuit brought by four human rights groups, including Brazil’s LGBTQ+ Alliance.
Piquet commented on Hamilton during an interview in November 2021 while discussing his crash with Max Verstappen at Silverstone, which included a racial slur.
In a separate interview, he used racist and homophobic language against Hamilton while discussing Hamilton losing out on the 2016 title to his Mercedes teammate, Nico Rosberg.
When news of Piquet’s comments first emerged last year, Hamilton responded by posting on social media, calling for a change in the sport and society.
The FIA suspended Piquet’s access to the paddock indefinitely after the comments came to light, but he did apologize and issue a statement clarifying his words.
In passing down the judgment on Friday, Judge Pedro Matos de Arrudo said that the fine 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 apologized for his comments last year, stating that they were ill-thought-out and that he made no defence for what he said.
He also clarified that the term he used while making the remarks was colloquially used in Brazilian Portuguese as a synonym for ‘guy’ or ‘person’ and that his intention was not to offend anyone.
However, he strongly condemned any suggestion that he used the word to belittle Hamilton because of his skin colour.
Discrimination has no place in F1 or society, and the court’s condemnation of Piquet’s comments is a testament to that. The significant financial penalty indicates that motorsports fans will not tolerate such behaviour in the sport or society in a unified manner.
Hamilton’s response to the ruling has not been made public, but his previous calls for change and action against such attitudes in the sport indicate that he will likely welcome the judgment against Piquet.
The F1 community has also condemned Piquet’s comments, and this ruling sends a clear message to fans that they do not tolerate such acts of indecency.
Also Read: Aston Martin’s Unique “Slidepods” Take F1 by Storm after Bahrain GP Success