Nelson Piquet fined $945,000 for racist blast at Hamilton

BRASILIA (AFP): Three-time Formula 1 champion Nelson Piquet was fined $945,000 on Saturday for racist remarks made against British driver Lewis Hamilton, who he called “neguinho” (“little black”) in an interview.

A court in Brasilia ruled that these “intolerable” remarks constituted a “serious offence to the fundamental values of society”.

Piquet, 70, was fined for “collective moral damages” with the money being donated to groups fighting against discrimination.

World champion in 1981, 1983 and 1987, Piquet used the word “neguinho” in an interview in 2021 when he criticised Hamilton’s role in a clash with Max Verstappen, his daughter Kelly’s boyfriend, at the British Grand Prix the same year.

Hamilton, a seven-time world champion, denounced “archaic attitudes” which “had to change”. “These are more than words,” said Hamilton.

Piquet later issued a “wholehearted” apology.

“What I said was wrong and I’m not going to defend myself but I want to clarify that this term has often been used in Brazilian Portuguese to describe ‘guy’ or ‘person’ and that it was never intended to offend,” he insisted.

However, the court was not convinced, ruling that “the absence of intention could not justify discriminatory behaviour towards minorities”.