The F1 driver community has responded to the comments made by Nelson Piquet Sr against Lewis Hamilton as racist behaviour comes to light.

It has been barely 72 hours since it came to light about what Nelson Piquet Sr said in a podcast some months ago regarding seven time World Champion Lewis Hamilton. A native Podcast, but upon translation, it has come to light that the “N” word was used on more than one occasion.

It was a sad state of affairs in this day and age. Not just that but a massively poor reflection on a three time World Driving Champion from the 1980’s. With respect, a driver who has been in trouble for comments made about people in the past but nonetheless a hero to so many around the world in his heyday.

His daughter Kelly, is of course the present girlfriend of the reigning World Champion Max Verstappen. As it stands right now, Piquet has apologised for what he said but there has been a myriad of recriminations and it may not end there either. Several of the F1 drivers have voiced their opinion on the issue and other matters also.

Piquet’s statement, apology:

Sebastian Vettel: “Well, I think… where to start? I think it’s more than just the recent days, if you are very honest. It is probably what he has been through, and his family has been through, his entire life. Now, any form of abuse, I think, is wrong. So, I think it was great to see that there was so much response from all of the F1 community and so quickly, people, responded and expressed support on the matter, towards Lewis. I don’t think that there should be any room for this kind of comments, and we still have to do a lot. I think we’ve come a lot further than maybe years ago but it doesn’t help when there’s still these things out there. And people still using inappropriate language and saying wrong things.

“So, I think it is very important to talk about it and continue to talk about it because, as I said, it is not gone, and it won’t be gone overnight – that would be great – but it is a bigger matter and F1 in that regard has a responsibility to carry and address these issues, which I think we’re trying to. We have the campaign We Race as One, which, you know, is very clear where we are going and where we want to go in the future. And more than language, and things that we are trying to do, I think is how we behave and how we include everyone there is, no matter which colour you are, no matter what type of partner you have, what’s your sexual orientation. So any community is welcome. And we should always respond in that way, very quickly, and make it clear that, we are open to anyone because, kindness matters, people matter, and, it was, like I said, bad to see what was going on”.

Lando Norris: “I think Seb gave a pretty perfect explanation. And like you said, in the beginning, I don’t think this is something Lewis has had, just recently, or just now. It’s something that something that he’s had to live with and deal with for a lot of his career, since he started. He’s said that many times, so I think we all know how strong-willed a person he is, and how we can get through these times and things like that, because it’s, it’s definitely not a not an easy thing. But, first of all, I think, as Seb said, there’s no room for these kinds of comments, or people bringing these comments to Formula 1, and about people – especially on such a public stage. It’s never a nice thing.

“As Formula 1, we want to be always create positive change. And although we are Formula 1 drivers, and that’s what we love and want to do the most, we still want to make things better in the world and we want to create changes and always good ones. And it highlights that. We still need to continue to do this. And although we work on different areas, and different things, and climate change, and whatever, there’s still the more simple and obvious ones that need to have our continued support and continued voices to speak openly about it. It’s tough. Obviously, everyone feels and supports Lewis as a person and as a driver, I’m sure he’s a strong guy and can get through these times. But Seb gave a much better answer than I’ll be able to give.

Max Verstappen: “Everyone is against racism. I think it’s very straight, there’s nothing more you can make of that. I think the wording which was used, even though of course with different kinds of cultures and things probably they said when they were little and younger, was not correct. Let it be a lesson for the future not to use that word because it’s very offensive and especially nowadays it gains even more traction. I’ve spent a bit of time with Nelson, I think more than the average person in general, and he is definitely not a racist. He’s actually a really nice and relaxed guy. I’m pretty sure also, in the statement he released, I think you can see the word in two ways.

“But I think it’s still just better not to use it. But it’s not only about that word, it’s not about the ‘n-word’ in general, just using offensive language to anyone, any colour, I think is not correct and that’s what we have to work on in general all over the world not only in F1 with Lewis specifically but to anyone in the world. I don’t think he needs me to tell him what is right and what isn’t. He already said in his statement I think he realised that he used the wrong word. So who am I to then call him? I don’t think it will change anything anyway. I think he realised it was probably not the correct word to use – well, clearly it’s not the correct word to use.

“It can be interpreted in two ways and of course people pick up on the bad side and then it gets really blown out of proportion. Because I know Nelson personally, people label him as a racist now, which I don’t think he is. But I fully agree, of course, that you cannot use these words. We don’t need to talk because he has all my respect like every other driver, exactly the same and he knows how I feel and think about this situation just like any other driver. Together with F1 and Lewis we are all behind the initiatives taken already, we’re in full support.”

Hamilton: “Firstly, I’m incredibly grateful to all those that have been supportive within the sport, particularly the drivers, you know. It’s been two years since we, many of us took the knee at the first race in Austria. And, of course, we’re still faced with the challenges. I mean, I’ve been on the receiving end of racism and criticism and that negativity in archaic narratives for a long, long time, you know, and undertones of discrimination. So, there’s nothing really particularly new for me. I think it’s more about the bigger picture. I mean, I’m not really sure…

“I don’t know why we are continuing to give these older voices a platform. Because they’re speaking on our sport, and we’re looking to go somewhere completely different and it’s not representative, I think, of who we are as a sport now and where are we planning to go? If we’re looking to be to grow in the US and other countries, South Africa, and grow our audience, we need to be looking to the future and giving the young younger people a platform that is more representative of today’s time, and to who we are trying to be and the direction that we’re going. So it’s not just about one individual. It’s not about just that one use of that term. It’s the bigger picture.”

FIA, F1 response and progress –

Hamilton: “I mean, it’s now a knee-jerk reaction really, from companies all around the world, when something like this happens, they probably already have… I’m not saying that we do, but I’m just saying, you’ve got to imagine that everyone’s PR agency or PR people, have already a script ready for something like that, crisis management. It’s not enough. Now it’s about actual real action. We’ve got to actually start acting  and as I said, it just comes back down to… I put to F1, to the media, we should not be giving these people a platform. These old voices are… whether they subconsciously or consciously do not agree that people like me, for example, should be in a sport like this, do not agree that women should be here. Discrimination is not something we should be projecting and promoting and giving a platform to create and divide people… We need more than ever…

“We’re living in such a difficult time in the world, we need people to be bringing people together. You know, we are all the same. And it is not helpful, the comments that we’re seeing from these people. The last couple of weeks, I don’t think a day’s gone by where there’s not been someone from some of the older [people] that have not really been in our sport or relevant in our sport for decades, trying to say negative things and trying to bring me down, but I’m still here, I’m still standing strong and I’m focused on my work, and really trying to push for diversity, inclusion within our organisation.

“We really need F1 and all the teams that have committed to signing this F1 charter that I’ve done that work with the Hamilton Commission, to work and also to put funds towards D&I. It’s not good enough just saying we are also focused on it and just lip service. We really need to push for action and that’s why I’m proud of the first step we’ve done with Ignite and that’s not the end of it, that’s just the beginning. I’ve got Mission 44 up and running. I’ve got a whole team of people there to really focus on it. I’ve got my own money in that and I’m out trying to raise money also to try and really push this… I’ve got partnerships with Sky. There’s a lot of great work that’s happening, but we need more and I can’t do it alone.”

Respecting old guard, comments of Jackie Stewart, Bernie Ecclestone –

Hamilton: “Well, I’ve always tried to take the high road and I’ve always tried to be respectful to these individuals. And again, just going back, I think it ties back to what I was saying before, just why do we give these guys a platform? They’re not with the times, they’re clearly not willing to change. And these undertones of discrimination and micro-aggressions are just in today’s world are just not helpful and just  creative more divide than not. I love how Michelle Obama says when they go low, we go high. So I try to continue to do that. I’m inspired by people like that. And that’s not… as I said, I’m still here. It’s not going to deter me from doing what I think is right and doing what I love, which is working in the sport.

“What I said earlier on, I think enough is enough, and that’s why we have to really push for action. But I mean, this is the question I put to you guys: why? Why give the… I mean, I think this was, what was it… Good Morning… BBC…? [Correction: ITV’s Good Morning Britain]. I mean, there needs to be some accountability. You know what you’re going to get with that and I don’t know what their goal is, if they were seeking to create divide, here in the UK, we don’t need any more of it. To hear from someone that ultimately believes in the war, the displacement of millions of people, in the killing of thousands of people, the person that’s doing that, they support them?

“I mean, that’s beyond me. And I can’t believe that’s what I heard today. And ultimately, it’s disappointing. It’s affecting not only all those people out there, but it’s affecting all the countries around the world, and it’s affecting people here in the UK. And it’s going to continue to affect us for… this is going to put us back decades, I think. But we have yet to see the real brunt of the pain that it’s going to cause the world. So why? We don’t need to be supporting that anymore. We’ve got to be looking to the future. We need more positivity in the world and there are plenty of people out there that are positive and if you’ve got nothing positive to contribute to where we want to be going and who we want to be, don’t give them the space.”

Racism on social media –

Hamilton: “Specific examples? So many of us have… you know, even Nicholas has experienced that abuse on social media, which is not a great space. There’s a lot of negativity and hate through there but I try not to give that stuff attention. So in general, it’s like anything, it’s a small group of people, I’d say that, I guess, are ultimately ignorant and it’s time for us to commit to learning and improving. But as you know, and going back to just…  it’s been kind of overwhelming to see the great support that I’ve had from my fellow colleagues here. And some of the teams and the sport. And it’s…  we’ve already seen it, last year, I think after this race, you saw the stuff that was online, and how that the sport did react. But now, that’s not enough, we’ve got to do more. Also, with the social media platforms, we need to start putting on them. They still haven’t done enough, when we were calling out for them to make changes.”

Pierre Gasly: “Obviously, that’s obvious to me because we got to be united in a fight and Lewis is the biggest ambassador we have in our sport and it needs to go beyond our sport. I think just in the society of today we need to set an example to all the people out there and yeah, that’s obvious. I’ll push my team and I’ll do anything that’s possible within our organisation, all of us as drivers, GPDA, anything that’s possible, we need to set example and we cannot let these things happen.”

Charles Leclerc: “Yeah, I completely agree. I think we need to be all in this together and try and help the people that probably doesn’t have a voice, to try and help them in this difficult moment and I think as Formula 1, as such a big sport like Lewis said, it’s expanding every year, we need to be all united and fight this fight together.”

Nicholas Latifi: “Yeah, I fully agree with Pierre and Charles and what they said. Me personally, I’m not 100% aware of why it hasn’t been signed yet. So yeah, maybe that’s something that I could inquire about with my team, particularly. But yeah, I think we’re all sitting here on the same page about what is still wrong in this world and in this day and age. Me personally, I do what I can to support that and I think it’s as the guys were saying, us, as big a sport as we are and now it’s growing at an astronomical level, we have to do what we can to use our platforms, sports platform, the drivers’ individual platforms, as well, because we do have a very big reach and anything we can to spread the positive message is needed.”

Zhou Guanyu: “Yeah, from my side, obviously, I agree with everyone. I think as Formula 1, we all try to stay united together on track, on the paddock, and to think, you know, the way how the world is growing, how more people using social media, of course, is…  you get more trouble also, like, from my side, you know, I got a perfect example, experience that once I signed the contract last year, and obviously there’s quite a lot negativities, racist comments, which, you know, it never should happen in any part of sports or in the world in general. And it’s not just for us, you know, we’re… as a driver, also Lewis, you know, we’re trying to help the world going forward and it’s not just for us, it’s for the younger generation to set a better example for them. So I think everybody’s should really stay united, equally doesn’t matter where you’re coming from, what job you’re doing. And yeah, that’s the way we’re trying to build up for this platform in Formula 1.”

In the fallout of the comment by Piquet, there have been several calls for very stringent action to be taken. World Champion Verstappen has advised he is not a racist but also advised the comment is not correct. With the week that’s has been in it, Red Bull junior driver Juri Vips has had his contract cancelled with immediate effect owing to a separate racist statement.

Here’s the statement from Nelson Piquet Sr

Here’s what everyone said when his interview came to light