Nelson Piquet is reportedly set to appear in court over his racist abuse of Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton.
As he states Mirrorthe three-time world champion could be fined £1.5m after he was filmed on a podcast using the N-word against Hamilton – along with a homophobic slur.
The interview was recorded last November, but it was not made public until the end of June on Brazilian television.
Piquet discussed the incident between Hamilton and Max Verstappen at last year’s British Grand Prix, where the pair collided while battling for the lead at the Copse corner and Verstappen crashed into the barriers at high speed.
Hamilton was blamed for the incident by Piquet, whose daughter Kelly has been dating Verstappen for several years, before launching into a tirade that included racist language. In the extended version of the clip, Piquet also uses homophobic slurs against Hamilton.
Piquet has since apologized for using the derogatory Portuguese term “neguinho” and condemned any suggestion that the word was used “to disparage the rider because of the color of his skin.
But a judge in Sao Paulo is said to have ordered an investigation into his comments after a human rights group brought charges against the 1981, 1983 and 1987 champion of causing moral harm to black and LGBTQ+ people.
The charges include demands that Piquet pay around £1.5m in damages and the 69-year-old will have 15 days to present his case to Judge Felipe Costa da Fonseca Gomes of the Distrito Federal Court.
Nelson Piquet is to appear in court over comments made against Lewis Hamilton
Piquet could be fined for his racist and homophobic comments towards Hamilton
The comments were made ahead of the British Grand Prix, leading to the Brazilian being banned 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 their disgust at Piquet’s language.
In his apology, Piquet said: “What I said was thoughtless and I’m not defending it, but I will clarify that the term used is one that is commonly and historically used colloquially in Brazilian Portuguese as a synonym for ‘guy’.” “or “person” and no offense was ever intended.
“I would never use the word I was accused of in some translations. I strongly condemn any suggestion that I used the word to disparage the driver because of his skin color.
Piquet referred to Hamilton as a “neguinh” during a podcast interview in which he discussed the Briton’s crash with Max Verstappen at last year’s British Grand Prix.
“I apologize from the bottom of my heart to everyone affected, including Lewis, who is an incredible driver, but the translation in some media now circulating on social media is not correct. Discrimination has no place in F1 or in society and I am happy to clarify my thoughts in this regard.”
Other comments were posted as reported Sky Sportsin which Piquet said: “Keke [Rosberg] he was with***. He is worthless. His son won the championship.’
Asked if he was referring to Nico Rosberg, he said of Hamilton: ‘The [racist term] it had to be [homophobic slur] in that time. He was pretty bad.’
Hamilton responded to the original comment, which went public, writing ‘Imagine’ next to the tweet, which said: ‘What if Lewis Hamilton had just tweeted: ‘Who the hell is Nelson Piquet?’
The 37-year-old added: “It’s more than just language. These are archaic views that need to be changed and have no place in our sport. I am surrounded by these attitudes and targeted all my life. There was plenty of time to study. The time has come to act.”
He also posted a message in Portuguese – Piquet’s native language – reading: “Let’s focus on changing the mindset”.
Both Formula 1 and Hamilton’s Mercedes team have also condemned Piquet’s comments.
“Discriminatory or racist language is unacceptable in any form and has no role in society,” F1 said in a statement, while Mercedes added: “We condemn in the strongest terms any use of racist or discriminatory language of any kind.”
Hamilton hits out at Piquet, saying ‘archaic mentality’ has ‘no place in sport’
“Lewis has been at the forefront of our sport’s efforts to combat racism and is a true champion of diversity on and off the track.”
Sportsmail reported earlier this month that three Brazilian MPs accused Nelson Piquet of committing a racial crime and asked the court to investigate him over his N-word abuse.
Aurea Carolina, Taliria Petrone and Vivi Reis, members of parliament for the left-wing Socialism and Freedom Party, filed a formal complaint with prosecutors in the capital Brasília.
Petrone, a former teacher who 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 drivers’ champion Verstappen
The MPs added in their complaint: “Treating black people in a clearly pejorative way, as Mr Nelson Piquet does, is contrary to equality practices.”
Verstappen, who knows Piquet through his girlfriend, said: “I’ve spent some 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 get on the wrong side and, of course, it’s really exaggerated.
“People call him a racist, which I don’t think. It’s better to open a conversation than to ban people. You won’t help the situation by doing so. It doesn’t help what you’re trying to get across, it’s better to chat. I don’t think he should be banned from the paddock – especially when he’s a three-time world champion.”
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