Nelson Piquet fined £780,000 for racist and homophobic comments about Lewis Hamilton

Nelson Piquet - Nelson Piquet handed £780,000 fine for racist and homophobic comments about Lewis Hamilton - AP/Janos Marjai
Nelson Piquet - Nelson Piquet handed £780,000 fine for racist and homophobic comments about Lewis Hamilton - AP/Janos Marjai

Three-time Formula One world champion Nelson Piquet has been ordered to pay 5,000,000 Brazilian Reals (£780,000) for making racist and homophobic comments about Lewis Hamilton.

The Brazilian, 70, referred to Hamilton in Portuguese as “neguinho” in an interview in late 2021 when referring to the first lap incident between the Mercedes driver and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen at that year’s British Grand Prix.

The footage surfaced online last year, leading Hamilton to call for action. Hamilton, awarded honorary Brazilian citizenship last year, is the sport’s only black driver.

F1 condemned the term used in a statement that read: “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.”

“It’s more than language,” Hamilton said at the time. “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.”

That has now happened, with four human rights groups, including Brazil’s National LGBT+ Alliance, demanding Piquet to pay 10 million Brazilian Reals for alleged moral damages.

A Brazilian court ruled on Friday that Piquet, who won the drivers’ title in 1981, 1983 and 1987, a campaign remembered for his heated relationship with Williams team-mate Nigel Mansell, must pay 5,000,000 Reals (£780,000).

Judge Pedro Matos de Arrudo said the punishment was served with the intention that “as a society, we can someday be free from the pernicious acts that are racism and homophobia”.

Piquet, whose daughter Kelly is Verstappen’s girlfriend, later apologised for his "ill-thought-out" language, arguing that the term was “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”.

However, it later emerged that Piquet had used racist and homophobic language in another interview when describing how Hamilton missed out on the 2016 championship to Nico Rosberg.