Max Verstappen insists Nelson Piquet 'not a racist' but condemns Lewis Hamilton slur
Max Verstappen, whose partner Kelly Piquet is Nelson's daughter, says the comments were "very offensive" but adds: "He's definitely not a racist"; Verstappen adds that Piquet should not be banned from the F1 paddock; Watch British GP live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend
By Matt Morlidge at Silverstone
Last Updated: 01/07/22 12:19pm
Max Verstappen has condemned Nelson Piquet's "very offensive" comments about Lewis Hamilton but has insisted that the Brazilian is "definitely not a racist".
In an interview that emerged this week, three-time world champion Piquet, 69, used a racial slur in reference to Hamilton, which Sky Sports understands has resulted in a ban from the F1 paddock.
Piquet apologised to Hamilton afterwards and admitted his words were "ill thought out" but denied racial intent, claiming there had been a misunderstanding.
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Verstappen, whose partner Kelly Piquet is Nelson's daughter, says the comments were "not correct" but defended Piquet's character when speaking to reporters ahead of this weekend's British GP.
"Everyone is against racism, I think it's very straight," world champion Verstappen said.
"I think the wording that was used, even though of course we have different kind of cultures and [they were] things that were said when they were younger, is not correct.
"Let it be a lesson in the future not to use that word, because it's very offensive and especially nowadays, it gets even more traction.
"I've spent a bit of time with Nelson, and he's definitely not a racist and he's actually a really nice and relaxed guy.
"The statement he released, you can see the word in two ways but I think it's still better not to use it.
"It's not only about that word, using offensive language to anyone, any colour, is not correct. That's to anyone in the world, not just to Lewis specifically."
Verstappen: Piquet knows he was wrong
Defending himself, Piquet claimed the term used was one "used colloquially in Brazilian Portuguese as a synonym for 'guy' or 'person' and was never intended to offend", while Hamilton has called for "older voices" to stop being given a platform to "divide people".
Verstappen said he had not spoken to Hamilton or Piquet about the scandal.
On Hamilton, who Verstappen crashed with at Silverstone last year, the Dutchman said: "We don't need to talk, he has all of my respect like every other driver and he knows how I feel and think about his situation."
Verstappen also said on Piquet: "It's not up to me to talk to my father-in-law. You're not going to say, 'hey man, that's not correct'. I think he knows himself.
"I don't think he needs me to say what is right and what isn't. He said it himself in his statement, he used the wrong word, so who am I to call him? I don't think it will change anything."
Verstappen then suggested that the comments had been "blown out of proportion".
"I think he realised it was probably not the correct word to use, and clearly it is not," Verstappen continued.
"It can be interpreted in two ways and of course people pick up on the bad side and of course it gets really blown, I think, out of proportion.
"I know Nelson personally and people of course label him as a racist now which I don't think he is, but I fully agree that you cannot use these words."
Max: Piquet should not be banned from paddock
Piquet's comments resulted in condemnation from the F1 community while Sky Sports understands he is also banned from the paddock for the foreseeable future.
Verstappen said he was unsure whether the ban was confirmed but stressed that "it's better to open a conversation instead of banning people".
"When you ban people, you are actually not helping the situation," he explained. "You're not talking. You have to communicate. It's really important, because if you just ban it's not helping what you're trying to enforce.
"You're trying to educate people, you're trying to have a chat. These things can be very easily solved.
"When you have a fight with someone, you insult someone, and you have a good chat and you apologise, it's exactly the same.
"It's of course not nice for the person you upset, but things can be easily forgotten and as long as you learn from the mistake you made, the wording you used, I don't think you should be banned from the paddock, especially a three-time world champion."