Mercedes Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton has called out “archaic mindsets” that “have no place in our sport” in an apparent response to the derogatory remarks made towards him by Nelson Piquet late last year.
A clip from last November of Piquet referring to Hamilton in Portuguese as “neguinho” rather than by his name when discussing his 2021 British GP clash with Max Verstappen has gained major traction on social media in recent days, with F1, governing body FIA and Hamilton’s Mercedes team all issuing statements condemning “discriminatory and racist language”.
Hamilton himself subsequently made three posts on Twitter in response, the first of them a one-word joke – “Imagine.” – in response to the suggestion that he simply tweet “who the f*** is Nelson Piquet” and log out of Twitter.
He then sent out a one-sentence message in Portuguese, approximately translating to ‘let’s focus on changing the mindset’ – a potential reference to the fact the word used by Piquet is a common if seriously outdated turn of phrase in Brazil.
Finally, Hamilton tweeted: “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.”
Hamilton has been a leading force within F1 when it comes to the push for increased diversity within the sport and has put his weight behind initiatives like the Hamilton Commission – aimed at increasing the representation of Black people in UK motorsport.
His Mercedes team-mate George Russell defended him on Tuesday afternoon, believing “he has done more for the sport than any driver in history, not just on track but off it”.
Huge respect to LH. He has done more for the sport than any driver in history, not just on track but off it. The fact that he and so many others are STILL having to deal with this behaviour is unacceptable. We all need to stand together against discrimination of any kind. https://t.co/E4c1jFQKtf
— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) June 28, 2022
Mercedes trackside engineer Andrew Shovlin also spoke to Sky Sports F1 about Hamilton’s campaigning efforts.
“He’s a very important and much-loved member of the team,” he said.
“Having worked with Lewis here for the last 10 years, you can understand a lot of the problems he will have experienced growing up in motorsport, which, for a lot of years was predominantly a white-British industry.
— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) June 28, 2022
“That’s why he’s put so much of his energy behind changing it. Some of the important initiatives we’ve got here, the Accelerate 25, Lewis’s charitable work with the team with Ignite, they’re all part of that.
“But he recognises that it takes a lot of time to change prejudice, to change opinions, and that’s why these are all long term programmes.”