Red Bull adviser Dr Helmut Mark has indicated that Sir Lewis Hamilton’s camp deliberately waited until the British Grand Prix race week to unearth racist comments made by Nelson Piquet.
Piquet was giving an interview in November last year when he appeared to use a slur to describe Hamilton while he was analysing the seven-time champion’s crash with Max Verstappen in Silverstone.
These comments surfaced ahead of the British Grand Prix this season, and Piquet received widespread condemnation from the Formula 1 community for his actions, as well as being banned from the paddock.
Dr Marko stressed that he does not condone racist abuse, but does not believe that what the Brazilian said was as bad as it was made out.
“I don’t want to defend Piquet, but if you translate the Portuguese correctly, what he said isn’t nearly as blatant,” he told Osterrich Newspaper.
The Austrian recalled that there was nothing new about Piquet coming out with controversial statements, so he finds it strange that his latest outburst was uncovered right before the race weekend in Silverstone, and not directly after he made them.
“But we know Piquet: even when he was active, he kept making ill-considered statements,” added Dr Marko.
“The only odd thing is that this interview from last November surfaced a few days before the [British] GP.
“Apparently, they wanted the previous year’s crash not to be boiled up again, this timing is no coincidence.”
Piquet issued an apology for his comments before defending them in the same statement, and he later reiterated his lack of remorse, as he does not believe there was anything wrong with the words he used.
“This is all bull****, I am not racist, there is nothing, nothing I said [was] wrong,” he ranted.
“What I said is a very soft word — we even use it for some of our white friends.
“I used this word almost one year ago in the interview and they come up with this, it has caused me some problems but to be honest with you I don’t really care.”
Hamilton labelled the comments as “archaic,” while Charles Leclerc affirmed that any form of discrimination “should not be tolerated.”
Verstappen agreed that the language was “not correct,” but affirmed that he does not believe Piquet is a racist.
Multiple other drivers and teams on the grid issued statements of support for Hamilton after Piquet’s comments surfaced.
Formula 1 itself also condemned the three-time world champion’s abuse of the Mercedes driver.