F1: Nelson Piquet ordered to pay £780,000 in damages for racist and homophobic Lewis Hamilton slurs
Three-time Formula One champion Nelson Piquet must pay 5 million Brazilian Reals (£780,000) in moral damages for racist and homophobic comments against Lewis Hamilton, a Brazilian court has ruled.
In an interview in November 2021, Piquet used a racial slur referring to the seven-time world champion, when commenting on Hamilton’s British Grand Prix crash with Max Verstappen.
Hamilton called for action to change “archaic mindsets” after footage of the interview surfaced on social media last June.
Piquet, 70, apologised to the British driver and said his comments had been mistranslated. They were widely denounced across the F1 paddock. Piquet's daughter Kelly is Verstappen's partner.
In another clip which surfaced later, Piquet used racist and homophobic language against Hamilton in a podcast interview when describing how Hamilton missed out on the 2016 championship to Nico Rosberg. Further offensive comments were made about former champions Nico and his father, Keke Rosberg.
Hamilton, who was awarded honorary Brazilian citizenship last June, is the sport's only Black driver.
The charges were brought by four human rights groups, including Brazil's National LGBT+ Alliance, which wanted Piquet to pay 10 million Brazilian Reals (£1.5million) for the alleged moral damages.
In his decision, Judge Pedro Matos de Arrudo said the amount of compensation was given “in the sense that one should not only appreciate the reparative function of civil liability but also (and perhaps mainly) the punitive function so that, as a society, we can someday be free from the pernicious acts that are racism and homophobia”.
He added: “This offense is intolerable. Even more so when one considers the projection that is given when it is a person as recognized and admired as the defendant.”
Additional reporting by Reuters.