Nelson Piquet has been handed a $950k (£780k) fine by a Brazilian court for ‘moral damages’ caused by racist and homophobic comments that he made about Mercedes driver Sir Lewis Hamilton.
Piquet used a racial slur when referring to Hamilton in November 2021 podcast interview when commenting on Hamilton’s victory over Max Verstappen in that year’s British Grand Prix, after early contact between them had caused Verstappen to crash out.
When footage of the interview emerged on social media, Hamilton called for action to change “archaic mindsets”
- Read also: Pressure ramping on F1 to take action against Nelson Piquet
Piquet subsequently issued an apology to Hamilton blaming a mistranslation, only for further comments to emerge in a subsequent podcast interview.
On this occasion the 70-year-old Brazilian icon was heard to use racist and homophobic language when speculating about how Hamilton had lost the 2016 title to then-team mate Nico Rosberg.
Civil charges were brought against Piquet not by Hamilton but by four human rights groups, including Brazil’s National LGBT+ Alliance, which sought a fine of ten million Brazilian Reals for alleged moral damages.
In the end the court decided on a fine of half that amount, five million Brazilian Reals (currently equivalent to $953,050).
Judge Pedro Matos de Arruda said the amount was decided upon “in the sense that one should not only appreciate the reparative function of civil liability but also (and perhaps mainly) the punitive function.”
He added that it was “so that, as a society, we can someday be free from the pernicious acts that are racism and homophobia”.
Hamilton, who made his F1 debut in 2007 and has gone on to win seven world championships, remains the sport’s only Black driver. He was awarded honorary Brazilian citizenship last June.
Piquet, who won the title in 1981, 1983 and 1987, took part in 204 Grands Prix starts over a career spanning 14 years from 1978 to 1991.
He drove for Ensign, Brabham, Williams and Benetton and scored 23 wins among 60 podiums, and also notched up 24 pole positions and 23 fastest race laps.
It’s not the first time Piquet has been in trouble for his insulting language. In a 1988 magazine interview he called Nigel Mansell an “uneducated blockhead” and his wife “ugly”, said Ayrton Senna was “gay” and Enzo ferrari “senile”.
He has also referred to 1982 world champion Keke Rosberg as “a turd that has no value”
After the recent comments about Hamilton, Piquet’s membership of the British Racing Drivers’ Club was suspended and it was reported that he would no longer be welcome in the F1 paddock at race weekends.
Piquet’s daughter Kelly has been dating Max Verstappen since 2020, although Verstappen had been a friend of the family for some time before that and they first met in 2016.
Piquet’s son, Nelson Piquet Jr., spent two seasons in F1 racing for Renault until he was caught up in the infamous ‘crashgate’ incident at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. He subsequently raced in Formula E, NASCAR and RallyCross.
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