Skip to main content

F1 Drivers Show Support for Hamilton After Piquet’s Use of Racial Slur

Racism has continued to rear its ugly head in the motorsports community over the last several weeks.

On Tuesday, Red Bull Racing terminated its contract with junior driver Juri Vips after he used a racial slur during a live stream. The same day, a Nov. 2021 podcast interview came to light in which three-time Formula One champion Nelson Piquet used a racial slur against Lewis Hamilton. 

The interview was conducted following last season’s British Grand Prix, and the 69-year-old used the derogatory term when discussing Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s first lap wreck. Piquet, who is the father of Verstappen’s partner, Kelly, commented on the Mercedes star’s handling of the car. 

Piquet said Hamilton “put his car there to hit him on purpose,” later adding “he wanted to take him out no matter the cost.” According to Sky Sports’ translation, the Brazilian used the term twice during the discussion.

Formula One, the FIA and Mercedes all condemned the racist language used by Piquet but did not name him in their respective statements. Hamilton addressed Piquet’s comments in several tweets, one of them saying “Vamos focar em mudar a mentalidade”, which is Portuguese for “Let’s focus on changing the mentality.” But as Hamilton said, this is “more than language.” 

Multiple teams—Alpine, McLaren, Aston Martin and Ferrari—shared statements in support of Hamilton and Mercedes. McLaren tweeted, in part, “Racism must be driven out of our sport, and it’s our shared responsibility to unite and eliminate it” while Aston Martin added in its post, “There is no room for this abhorrent behaviour in our sport or society.”

Several of the drivers, though, shared stronger thoughts on the matter, speaking to Hamilton’s character and impact beyond the grid. The seven-time world champion has continuously campaigned to fight racism and is known for being outspoken on human rights abuses in countries where F1 competes. He has addressed how motorsports is a male-dominated industry, calling for “more women in the stewards’ room” back in February and most recently supporting Sky Sports F1 broadcaster and competitive driver Naomi Schiff on Twitter when her credentials called into question. 

George Russell was one of the first to speak out in support of his Mercedes teammate, tweeting, “Huge respect to LH. He has done more for the sport than any driver in history, not just on track but off it. The fact that he and so many others are STILL having to deal with this behaviour is unacceptable. We all need to stand together against discrimination of any kind.” 

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc soon followed with a statement of his own on Twitter and his Instagram story, saying, “Knowing Lewis since I arrived in Formula 1, he has always been extremely respectful to me and everyone that he meets. Those values should be the standard towards anybody around the world. The comments made towards Lewis should not be tolerated, and we should continue to push for a more diverse and inclusive sport. We need to remove discriminatory behaviour and racist language in any form from not just our sport, but our society as well.” Leclerc’s teammate, Carlos Sainz, retweeted Ferrari’s statement in support of Hamilton, Mercedes and F1.  

Esteban Ocon shared, in part, that “enough is enough” and that “we are proud to have him at the forefront of our fight for further diversity and inclusion in motorsport.” Zhou Guanyu tweeted, “I join Lewis and the motorsport community in standing against any form of racism, discrimination and prejudice.”

Mick Schumacher shared Mercedes’s post to his Instagram story with the comment “we stand with you @lewishamilton.”

Daniel Ricciardo penned and shared a lengthy statement concerning the matter on his Instagram story. He said, in part, “Those who still choose to spread hate and use those words are no friends of mine.” 

The McLaren driver added, “I want to acknowledge Lewis and all the work he has done both on and off the track to not only spread messages of equality but combat that hate. I’ve never dealt with any racially motivated actions, but he has for his entire life. Yet each time his response to the hate is motivated by maturity, positivity and education the world on how we should act. 

“I stand with him and will do whatever I can to follow and support.”