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Lewis Hamilton has praised the Brazilian government for slapping three-time F1 world champion Nelson Piquet with a hefty fine for using racist and homophobic language. The Mercedes star broke his silence on the punishment after arriving in Melbourne for this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.
Footage went viral last year of Piquet using a racial slur when discussing Hamilton’s collision with Max Verstappen at the 2021 British Grand Prix. A separate interview showed the Brazilian using homophobic language while talking about Hamilton’s defeat to Nico Rosberg in the 2016 Drivers’ Championship.
Piquet, whose daughter Kelly is in a relationship with Verstappen, was charged by a Brazilian court last week and ordered to pay moral damages in the region of £780,000. Hamilton has since commended the country’s authorities for not taking the issue lightly.
“Back when it happened I made comments on it – I still believe that we generally shouldn’t be giving people that are just full of hate a platform,” he told reporters.
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“I’d like to acknowledge the Brazilian government. I think it’s pretty amazing what they have done in holding someone accountable, showing people that it’s not tolerated. Racism and homophobia is not acceptable and there is no place for it within our society.
“I love that they [the Brazilian government] have shown that they stand for something. I wish that more governments out there would do that, such as you’ve just seen in Uganda, and there are other countries in Africa and the Middle East – there’s a lot that can be learned from that.”
Back when the clips gained traction, Piquet publicly apologised to Hamiton and insisted that he had been mistranslated. The seven-time world champion was awarded honorary Brazilian citizenship last year and remains the only black driver in F1, where he frequently uses his platform to discuss societal issues.
Former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone caused a major stir last June by admitting his ‘surprise’ that Hamilton had not simply brushed the incident aside. “Nelson would never go out of his way to say anything bad, certainly,” he told Good Morning Britain.
“[The term] is probably not appropriate with us. But probably it isn’t something terrible that happens if you said that in Brazil. People say things. If people happen to be a little bit overweight, or undersized like me, I’m quite sure a lot of people have made remarks about that.
“If I’d have heard it, I’d have been able to deal with it myself without too much trouble. I’m surprised Lewis hasn’t just brushed it aside. Or, better than that, replied. But he’s now come out and Nelson has apologised.”
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