Piquet punished for racist and homophobic slurs aimed at Hamilton as Brazilian lands £780,000 court fine
Brazilian motor racing great Nelson Piquet has been fined around £780,000 for making racist and homophobic comments about seven-time Formula One drivers' champion Lewis Hamilton.
A judge in Brasilia imposed the punishment "for collective moral damages" and it was announced the money would go towards promoting racial equality and fighting LGBTQIA+ discrimination.
It was alleged by campaign groups behind the action that Piquet made comments in a November 2021 interview on YouTube that "violated the diffuse fundamental right to honour of the black population and the LGBTQIA+ community", and that those remarks, directed at Hamilton, went beyond the limits of freedom of expression.
In a statement confirming the punishment for 70-year-old Piquet, who won Formula One titles in 1981, 1983 and 1987, it was said that he denied intending "to harm Hamilton or anyone else's honour".
However, the judge said the discriminatory content was verifiable and determined Piquet's use of the term 'neguinho', which translates as 'little black man', was used when the former driver was being critical of Hamilton.
It was ruled that: "The nuances of language cannot go unnoticed, as subtlety is one of the characteristics of contemporary Brazilian racism: the subjugating element is present, the neguinho is not just any person, he is not a young black man, it is not an affectionate nickname, it is [saying] that the black person is doing something wrong, that he is an inferior race.
"In this context, it is easy to see that the use of the term neguinho by the defendant, a white person, to refer to the black English driver is a conduct that is discriminatory and with harmful meaning".
The judge determined Piquet had also used homophobic language when referring to Hamilton, implying that "being gay would be a negative characteristic, because it means incompetence".
The ruling and fine of five million Brazilian Reals is a punishment that Piquet is entitled to appeal against.
At the time of Piquet's remarks coming to light last June, former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone declared Hamilton should be "happy" he received an apology and ought to have "brushed aside" the Brazilian’s racist slur.
Hamilton responded by referencing Ecclestone and Piquet as "older voices", declaring they have "nothing positive" to contribute.
"We push for action. There needs to be some accountability," Hamilton said.
He added: "I have always tried to take the higher road and be respectful. It ties back to – why do we give them a platform? They are not with the times. They are not willing to change. Microaggression in today's world is not healthy."