Piquet fined for racist, homophobic comments

Rio de Janeiro –

Retired F1 champion Nelson Piquet has been ordered to pay $950,000 in “moral damages” for making racist and homophobic comments about Lewis Hamilton.

The 70-year-old Brazilian called seven-time champion Hamilton a ‘neguinho’ in 2021. It’s a racist term that means “little black man.”

A Brasilian court on Friday ordered Piquet to pay 5 million Brazilian reals.

Indictments have been filed by several human rights groups, including Brazil’s National LGBTI+ Alliance.

Hamilton has denounced an “outdated mindset” and said the Mercedes driver has been “surrounded by these attitudes and targeted[his]life”. He is the only black driver in F1 and was awarded honorary citizenship by Brazil last year.

Piquet, who won three F1 titles in the 1980s, was discussing the collision between Hamilton and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen during the 2021 British Grand Prix. His daughter Kelly Pique is Verstappen’s girlfriend.

Piqué later apologized for the “poorly thought out” racial term in a statement, but said, “It has been widely and historically colloquially used in Brazilian Portuguese as a synonym for ‘man’ or ‘person’. and was not intended to offend.”

Judge Pedro Matos de Arruda said in his ruling that “subtlety is one of the hallmarks of contemporary Brazilian racism” and that the word “is not an endearing nickname”.

In a separate interview, Piquet used racist and homophobic language when talking about Hamilton missing out on the last championship.

Piquet’s comment hinted that if Hamilton had not been gay, “he would have won the championship….so being gay would be a negative trait.”

Retired drivers have the right to appeal the judgment.

Piquet has angered some F1 fans by endorsing far-right ex-President Jair Bolsonaro. He contributed about US$95,000 to Bolsonaro’s unsuccessful bid for re-election.

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