Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc suffered a slip of the tongue ahead of the British Grand Prix when talking about Sir Lewis Hamilton.
The 37-year-old had been on the receiving end of racist abuse from Nelson Piquet in comments that were made back in November, and resurfaced ahead of the race in Silverstone.
Piquet was analysing Hamilton’s crash with Max Verstappen at last year’s British Grand Prix, and used a racial slur to describe the seven-time champion.
The Briton received waves of support from fans, drivers and teams after he, not for the first time in his life, suffered abhorrent racist abuse.
It was understandably the main talking point for the drivers on Thursday ahead of the weekend, and Leclerc accidentally called Hamilton an “eight-time” world champion when backing up his colleague, before quickly correcting himself and identifying the 103-time race winner as a “seven-time world champion.”
Piquet’s abuse of Hamilton coincided with Red Bull ejecting Formula 2 Hitech driver Juri Vips from their programme for using racist language during a livestream, and Leclerc spoke out against the shocking developments in F1, which he reiterates is a big issue in the wider world too.
“I think it is in general,” he told Sky Sports.
“Obviously, the recent events show that we’ve got a long way to go also in our sport, but I believe that it’s a reflection also of the whole society.
“And we need to be better, I mean Lewis deserves the respect obviously, he is a seven-time world champion but there is much more to that.
“He is just a person and I think everybody deserves the respect and it’s just a really big shame and it’s really disappointing and sad to see that there are still people that don’t understand this.”
McLaren’s Lando Norris also appeared to mistake Hamilton for an eight-time champion while watching his overtake on him back after the race, saying “I should be an eight-time world champion.”