In an interview on a Brazilian podcast in November 2021, Piquet used a racial slur referring to seven-time world champion Hamilton, while being asked on his views on Hamilton’s British Grand Prix clash with Max Verstappen.
Piquet apologised for his remarks when they surfaced last June, stating his language “was ill thought out, and I make no defence for it”.
He also claimed he was mistranslated as the derogatory term he used “is one that has widely and historically been used colloquially in Brazilian Portuguese as a synonym for ‘guy’ or ‘person’ and was never intended to offend.”
But four human rights groups, including Brazil’s National LGBT+ Alliance, took the matter to court, suing Piquet for 10 million Brazilian reals for moral damages.
On Friday, the civil court in Brazil’s capital Brasilia ordered Piquet to pay half the demanded amount, 5 million reals, the equivalent of £780,000. He will be able to appeal.
In the decision, the judge in question stated that the size of the fine represents not only “the reparatory function of civil responsibility, but also (and perhaps mainly) the punitive function, precisely so that as a society we can one day get rid of the pernicious acts that are racism and homophobia”.
At the time Piquet’s comments prompted widespread condemnation by the F1 paddock and in a response on social media Hamilton wrote: “These archaic mindsets need to change and have no place in our sport. I’ve been surrounded by these attitudes and targeted my whole life.”
“It’s more than language. These archaic mindsets need to change and have no place in our sport.
“I’ve been surrounded by these attitudes and targeted my whole life. There has been plenty of time to learn. Time has come for action.”
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG
Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images
The 1981, 1983 and 1987 world champion was subsequently barred from the F1 paddock and was also suspended as an honorary member of the British Racing Drivers Club.
Hamilton, the only Black driver in F1 and the only Black world champion, has been at the forefront of a push to improve diversity and inclusion in motorsport.
He established The Hamilton Commission, which conducted a report looking into the representation of Black people within motorsport.
Based on the conclusions from that report, Hamilton and Mercedes launched the Ignite charity to get more students from underrepresented backgrounds into STEM education. The charity is aligned with Hamilton’s personal Mission 44 foundation.
In the build-up to last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix, Hamilton became an honorary citizen of the country.