Nelson Piquet says he “strongly condemns any suggestion” that he racially abused Lewis Hamilton last year – but says he “apologises wholeheartedly” for the word choice.
Piquet referring to Hamilton as “neguinho” in a Portuguese-language interview – a word that can be directly translated to “little Black man” – has created a scandal and drawn condemnation from Hamilton himself, as well as Formula 1, governing body FIA, Hamilton’s Mercedes team and a number of fellow F1 squads and drivers.
A day after these condemnations came out, Piquet released a statement of his own.
“I would like to clear up the stories circulating in the media about a comment I made in an interview last year,” the statement read.
“What I said was ill-thought-out, and I make no defence for it, but I will clarify that the term used is one that has widely and historically been used colloquially in Brazilian Portuguese as a synonym for ‘guy’ or ‘person’ and was never intended to offend.”
“I would never use the word I have been accused of in some translations,” he added, presumably referencing the n-word.
“I strongly condemn any suggestion that the word was used by me with the aim of belittling a driver because of his skin colour.
“I apologise wholeheartedly to anyone that was affected, including Lewis, who is an incredible driver, but the translation in some media that is now circulating on social media is not correct. Discrimination has no place in F1 or society and I am happy to clarify my thoughts in that respect.”