Verstappen branded a ‘disgrace’ for response to Piquet racism against Hamilton

Max Verstappen was opposed to banning Nelson Piquet from the paddock after he racially abused Sir Lewis Hamilton.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was left in a tough spot ahead of this weekend when the father of his girlfriend Kelly Piquet, Nelson, was caught out for comments last year in which he racially abused Sir Lewis Hamilton.

Piquet was analysing a crash between Verstappen and Hamilton at last year’s British Grand Prix when he used multiple racist and homophobic terms to describe the seven-time champion.

The Brazilian issued an apology in which he still tried to defend his actions, and this almost unbelievable attempt at recompense did little to prevent him from being banned from the paddock.

Verstappen criticised the punishment, asserting that communication is a better approach than simply banning someone who uses racist language.

READ: Verstappen slams Formula 1 for banning Piquet from the paddock over Hamilton racial slur

“Communication is really important because if you ban, it is not helping what you are trying to enforce, right?” pondered the 24-year-old.

“You are trying to educate people so it is better to have a chat. These things can be very easily solved.”

Former Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone tried to defend Piquet’s actions by suggesting that racism was no worse than someone commenting on his smaller than average size, and implied that Piquet’s anger at watching Verstappen crash out of the race was a good enough reason to use racial abuse.

“I know his feelings because I was alone, I exploded – didn’t stay anything obviously because there was no point because there was nobody here to hear my reaction to that,” said Ecclestone in a bizarre interview with Good Moring Britain.

Article continues below

“So, that’s probably what his problem was; he was upset with the accident thinking it was wrong, and probably thinking it was Lewis’ fault.

Hamilton stated ahead of the British Grand Prix weekend that “older voices” and outdated opinions need to be ejected by society, but Verstappen’s comments make Daily Mail Writer Martin Samuel suggest that it is not just the old voices that pose a problem.

“So, when Hamilton says his sport needs to tune out the voices and opinions of the unreconstructed older generation, that will solve nothing. Not much point if the 24-year-olds are just 91-year-olds in waiting,” he wrote.

“Yes, Verstappen said other stuff about Piquet’s language being wrong, and that it should be a lesson for the future but that seemed to come from a spreadsheet marked Anti-Racism 1.0.”

Samuel quotes Verstappen as saying that “everyone is against racism” when affirming his condemnation for the language used by Piquet, but these words, in the journalist’s mind, have little substance.

“Wise words mate, everyone is,” he continued.

“Right up until it starts to get difficult or might affect them. Piquet’s slur occurred while blaming Hamilton for the collision with Verstappen at Silverstone last year. Maybe the Dutchman doesn’t want to upset his fan club.”

The reigning champion emphasised that Piquet’s status as a three-time champion should have been considered before banning him, but Hamilton, as a seven-time champion, also has the right not to be racially abused.

READ: ‘Guinea Pig’ Chadwick admits changes may be needed to accommodate women in Formula 1

“Nowhere in Verstappen’s words is there the slightest indication he knows, or cares, what it must have been like for Hamilton in this sport,” explained Samuel

“He thinks he should ‘chat’ to the guy who defined him as neguinho; he thinks Piquet’s three titles should bestow special privileges.

“What about Hamilton’s seven, which we all know should be eight really. Shouldn’t they afford him some rights, too? The right not to be referred to by his skin colour, for instance.

“Verstappen was in a difficult position, given his connection to the Piquet family, but even so, his reaction was a disgrace.”

Ecclestone was condemned by Formula 1 for showing support for Russian President Vladimir Putin amid their invasion of Ukraine.