Nelson Piquet is reportedly set to attend a court hearing over his racist misuse of the Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton.
As reported by the mirrorThe three-time world champion could potentially be fined £1.5million after he was filmed using an N-word slur against Hamilton on a podcast – along with a homophobic slur.
The interview was recorded last November but only went public on Brazilian television at the end of June.
Piquet discussed the incident between Hamilton and Max Verstappen at last year’s British Grand Prix, where the pair collided while fighting for the lead at Copse corner and Verstappen crashed into the guardrail at high speed.
Hamilton was blamed for the incident by Piquet, whose daughter Kelly has been dating Verstappen for a number of years, before launching a tirade using racist language. In an extended version of the clip, Piquet also uses homophobic slurs against Hamilton.
Piquet has since apologized for using the derogatory Portuguese term ‘neguinho’ and denounced any suggestion that the word was ‘used with the aim of disparaging a driver because of the color of his skin.
However, the Sao Paulo judge is said to have ordered an investigation into his comments after a human rights group brought charges against the 1981, 1983 and 1987 champion for causing moral harm to Black and LGBTQ+ people.
The charges include a claim for around £1.5million in damages for Piquet and the 69-year-old has 15 days to present his case before Judge Felipe Costa da Fonseca Gomes of the Distrito Federal Court.
Nelson Piquet is due to appear in court over comments made against Lewis Hamilton
Piquet could be fined for his racist and homophobic comments towards Hamilton
The comments came ahead of the British Grand Prix, which resulted in the Brazilian being suspended from Silverstone for this year’s race.
Leading F1 figures including former world champions Damon Hill and Jenson Button, as well as respected commentator Martin Brundle, expressed disgust at Piquet’s language.
Piquet said in his apology: “What I said was ill thought out and I’m not defending myself for that, but I will clarify that the term used was widely used in Brazilian Portuguese and historically used as a synonym for ‘type’ or ‘ person’ and was never intended to offend.
“I would never use the word some translations reproach me for. I strongly condemn any suggestion that the word was used by me with the aim of belittling a driver because of the color of his skin.
Piquet referred to Hamilton as “Neguinho” during a podcast interview in which he discussed the Brit’s crash with Max Verstappen at last year’s British Grand Prix.
“My heartfelt apologies to everyone involved including Lewis who is an incredible driver but the translation in some media that is now circulating on social media is incorrect. Discrimination has no place in Formula 1 or in society and I am happy to share my thoughts on the matter.”
Further comments went public, as reported Sky Sportsin which Piquet said: “Keke [Rosberg] was shit. He’s worthless. His son won a championship.”
When asked if he was referring to Nico Rosberg, he said of Hamilton: “The [racist term] must have been [homophobic slur] back then. He was pretty bad.’
Hamilton hit back at the original comment that became public, writing “Imagine” alongside a tweet that read, “What if Lewis Hamilton just tweeted ‘Who the heck is Nelson Piquet?'”
The 37-year-old added: “It’s more than language. These archaic ways of thinking need to be changed and have no place in our sport. I’ve been surrounded by and aimed at these attitudes my entire life. There was a lot of time to study. The time to act has come.”
He also posted a message in Portuguese – Piquet’s native language – that read: “Let’s focus on changing the mindset.”
Both Formula 1 and Hamilton’s Mercedes team also condemned Piquet’s statements.
“Discriminatory or racist language in any form is unacceptable and has no part in society,” F1 said in a statement, while Mercedes added, “We strongly condemn any use of racist or discriminatory language of any kind.
Hamilton hit back at Piquet, saying “archaic mindsets” have “no place in the sport”.
“Lewis has spearheaded our sport’s efforts to combat racism and he is a true advocate for diversity on and off the track.”
Sportsmail reports earlier this month that three Brazilian lawmakers accused Nelson Piquet of committing a racial crime and asked a court to investigate him for his n-word slur.
Aurea Carolina, Taliria Petrone and Vivi Reis, MPs from the left-wing Socialism and Freedom Party, have filed a complaint with the public prosecutor’s office in the capital, Brasilia.
Petrone, a former teacher who has spent her political career representing Rio de Janeiro, said: “The racism that structures our society must be fought everywhere.”
Piquet’s daughter Kelly (left) is currently dating 2021 World Drivers’ Champion Verstappen
MPs added in their complaint: “The clearly derogatory treatment of black people, as Mr Nelson Piquet is doing, violates equality implementation practices.”
Verstappen, who knows Piquet through his girlfriend, said: “I’ve spent a bit of time with Nelson and he’s definitely not a racist.
“He’s actually a really nice and laid-back guy. This word can be interpreted in two ways and people take it on the bad side and of course it gets really overblown.
“People call him a racist, which I don’t believe. Better to start a conversation than ban people. You’re not helping the situation. It doesn’t help what you’re trying to enforce, it’s better to chat. I don’t think he should be banned from the paddock – especially as he’s a three-time world champion.”