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today is Aug 12, 2022

Lewis Hamilton has called for action to be taken to tackle racism after F1, the FIA and his Mercedes team condemned a discriminatory comment made about him by his fellow world champion Nelson Piquet.

The comment was made in an interview during 2021 which came to wider attention on social media last week. While discussing the collision between Hamilton and Max Verstappen at last year’s British Grand Prix, Piquet used a racially offensive Portuguese expression in reference to the Mercedes driver.

Hamilton said the remark was typical of abuse he had received throughout his career.

“It’s more than language,” he said in a statement on social media. “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.”

Piquet won the world championship with Brabham in 1981 and 1983, and again with Williams in 1987. One of his sons, Nelson Piquet Jnr, finished runner-up to Hamilton in the 2006 GP2 (now Formula 2) championship.

F1 strongly criticised Piquet’s choice of words. “Discriminatory or racist language is unacceptable in any form and has no part in society,” it said in response to an enquiry from RaceFans.

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“Lewis is an incredible ambassador for our sport and deserves respect. [Hamilton’s] tireless efforts to increase diversity and inclusion are a lesson to many and something we are committed to at F1.”

Piquet made the comment in an interview last year Hamilton’s Mercedes team also pointed to the driver’s efforts to promote diversity within motorsport through the Hamilton Commission which he launched in 2020.

“We condemn in the strongest terms any use of racist or discriminatory language of any kind,” said a team spokesperson when asked by RaceFans.

“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.”

The FIA also issued a statement after Piquet’s comments were reported. “The FIA strongly condemns any racist or discriminatory language and behaviour, which have no place in sport or wider society,” it said. “We express our solidarity with Lewis Hamilton and fully support his commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion in motor sport.”

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