Nelson Piquet hit with seven-figure fine over derogatory Hamilton comments

Nelson Piquet has been hit with a massive fine for racist remarks about Lewis HamiltonNelson Piquet has been hit with a massive fine for racist remarks about Lewis Hamilton

Nelson Piquet has been ordered by a Brazilian court to pay a fine of five million Reals to Lewis Hamilton after making racist and homophobic comments against his fellow F1 champion.

The staggering sum equates to $1.431m, or US$953,000, €855,000 and £779,000, and relates to remarks made by Piquet during two interviews he gave in 2021.

In the first, three-time F1 champion Piquet twice used the term “neguinho” in reference to Hamilton as he discussed the controversial incident during the British Grand Prix involving the 38-year-old Briton and then title rival Max Verstappen.

Piquet issued a statement in which he ‘wholeheartedly apologised’ for his remarks, claiming the term used “has widely and historically been used colloquially in Brazilian Portuguese as a synonym for ‘guy’ or ‘person’ and was never intended to offend”.

But in a further derogatory interview that also came to light a few days later, 70-year-old Piquet used the same term again, as well as making a homophobic comment in relation to Hamilton, as he reflected on the 2016 title loss to Nico Rosberg.

The British driver was given widespread support by the F1 community, in particular, given his efforts to raise awareness of inclusivity and diversity in motorsport in recent times, alongside his Mercedes team.

In response, Hamilton issued a statement of his own, demanding “archaic mindsets” to change, and calling for action.

Four human rights groups, including Brazil’s National LGBT+ Alliance, brought charges against Piquet and sought a compensatory payment of 10 million Brazilian Reals for alleged moral damages.

Judge Pedro Matos de Arrudo, presiding over the case, halved the figure, declaring it a sufficient enough deterrent “so that, as a society, we can someday be free from the pernicious acts that are racism and homophobia”.

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