Lewis Hamilton: Nelson Piquet ordered to pay damages for racist comments against Mercedes F1 driver
Three-time Formula One champion Nelson Piquet has been ordered by a Brazilian court to pay $953,050 in moral damages for racist and homophobic comments against Lewis Hamilton.
Piquet twice used a racial slur when referring to Hamilton in an interview in November 2021, when commenting on the Mercedes driver’s British Grand Prix crash with Max Verstappen.
The footage of the interview surfaced on social media last June, with Hamilton calling for action to change “archaic mindsets”. Piquet, 70, apologised to the British driver and said his comments had been mistranslated.
In another clip which surfaced later, Piquet used racist and homophobic language against Hamilton in a podcast interview when describing how Hamilton missed out on the 2016 championship to Nico Rosberg.
The charges were brought by four human rights groups, including Brazil’s National LGBT+ Alliance, which wanted Piquet to pay 10 million Brazilian Reals for alleged moral damages.
In his decision, Judge Pedro Matos de Arrudo said the amount of compensation was given "in the sense that one should not only appreciate the reparative function of civil liability but also (and perhaps mainly) the punitive function so that, as a society, we can someday be free from the pernicious acts that are racism and homophobia".
Hamilton, who was awarded honorary Brazilian citizenship last June, is the sport’s only Black driver. Piquet’s daughter Kelly is Verstappen’s partner.
When Piquet’s comments surfaced in June, Hamilton said he had been targeted “by these attitudes my whole life”.
“It’s more than language,” he said. “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.”
Formula One, Mercedes and several teams also condemned Piquet’s racist language.
“Discriminatory or racist language is unacceptable in any form and has no part in society. Lewis is an incredible ambassador for our sport and deserves respect,” a statement read.
“(Hamilton’s) tireless efforts to increase diversity and inclusion are a lesson to many and something we are committed to at F1.”
Includes reporting from Reuters