Formula 1 is planning to ban three-time world champion Nelson Piquet Sr from its paddock in the wake of his use of a racial slur in relation to Lewis Hamilton.
F1 has made no public comment on the ban possibility, but did issue a statement on Tuesday in response to Piquet’s comments surfacing saying that “discriminatory or racist language is unacceptable in any form and has no part in society”. It is understood that the current intention is for a ban to be implemented.
That intention has not been changed by Piquet issuing a statement earlier today in which he said “I apologise wholeheartedly” and that attempted to clarify his use of language and “condemn any suggestion that the world was used by me with the aim of belittling a driver because of his skin colour”.
This was in response to widespread condemnation of his use of the Portuguese word “neguinho” to describe Hamilton in an interview conducted last year, but that emerged to a wide audience this week. Hamilton has described this as representative of an “archaic mindset”.
Piquet has rarely attended F1 events in recent years outside of appearances at Interlagos and occasionally at other tracks. This includes presenting the Pirelli pole position award in Austria in 2018 and demonstrating a Brabham BT52B in the Legends Parade at the Red Bull Ring in 2015, as well as supporting son Pedro Piquet in what was then GP3 four years ago.
But such a ban would have significant symbolic impact given he is one of only 20 living F1 world champions, four of which are currently racing in F1. Past champions have traditionally been welcome in the paddock, as well as making regular appearances in various events celebrating F1’s history.
While bans from the F1 paddock are rare, there have been cases in the past of individuals being considered persona non grata and who were declined passes for a multitude of reasons on an unofficial basis. But banning Piquet would be a big step from F1 and a statement that it is willing to take action to back up its anti-racism messaging of recent years.
This follows Hamilton’s statement issued on social media on Wednesday in which he said the “time has come for action”.
While such a ban on Piquet will have limited impact on him and is primarily of value for what it represents, his lack of involvement in contemporary F1 means that there are limited avenues to take action.
It is not clear how long such a ban would last or whether there are conditions that could lead to it being rescinded.