The 69-year-old Brazilian, who won the F1 world title in 1981, 1983, and 1987, used a racially offensive term to refer to Hamilton when discussing the controversial collision between the Mercedes driver and Verstappen at the 2021 British Grand Prix during a podcast last November.
Audio from the podcast resurfaced ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix. Although he has not been named directly in any of the statements, Piquet has been condemned by F1, the FIA and Mercedes.
Rodrigo Piquet, a relative of Nelson, has defended the triple world champion on social media, writing on Instagram: “Inacinha, our second grandmother and the mother of my father and the soul and heart of my uncle.
“She called all of us that [neguinho]. It’s not like that, but it’s about love.
Rodrigo’s account was made private shortly after sharing his post, which was liked by Nelson’s daughter Kelly.
F1 chiefs are considering banning the three-time world champion from the F1 paddock.
“Discriminatory or racist language is unacceptable and has no part in society,” an F1 statement read.
“Lewis is an incredible ambassador for our sport and deserves respect. His tireless efforts to increase diversity and inclusion are a lesson to many and something we are committed to at F1.”
How did Hamilton respond?
Seven-time world champion Hamilton issued a response to Piquet’s comments on Twitter.
“It’s more than language,” Hamilton wrote.
“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.”
Mercedes backed their driver in a separate statement which read: “We condemn in the strongest terms any use of racist or discriminatory language of any kind,” said Mercedes. “Lewis has spearheaded our sport’s efforts to combat racism, and he is a true champion of diversity on and off track.
“Together, we share a vision for a diverse and inclusive motorsport, and this incident underlines the fundamental importance of continuing to strive for a brighter future.”
Ferrari also condemned Piquet, while fellow drivers including Mercedes teammate George Russell, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo also sent messages of support to Hamilton.
“Knowing Lewis since I arrived in Formula 1, he has always been kind and respectful to me and everyone that he meets,” said Leclerc. “Those values should be the standard towards anybody around the world.
“The comments made towards Lewis should not be tolerated, and we should continue to push for a more diverse and inclusive sport. We need to remove discriminatory behaviour and racist language in any form from not just our sport, but our society as well.”
The topic is likely to be a major talking point when the drivers face the media on Thursday at Silverstone.