Norris on Piquet racial slur: People make mistakes in life

Nelson Piquet apologised to Lewis Hamilton for the language used in a 2021 interview, but denied there was any racial intent


Lando Norris has urged fans not to lose perspective on ‘genuine mistakes’ in the wake of racial slur scandals that have rocked the Formula 1 paddock in the run-up to the 2022 British Grand Prix.

Nelson Piquet was forced to apologise after a video surfaced from November 2021 of the three-time world champion calling Lewis Hamilton a ‘neguinho’ – a Portuguese term meaning ‘little n****r’.

However, Piquet added that the term was used widely in Portuguese and doesn’t carry the same connotations as its English equivalent, and Norris said his legacy shouldn’t be defined by the comment.

“I think there is a difference between someone making say a mistake and having used a wrong language and wrong word versus someone who’s obviously trying to do it to discriminate and have it in the wrong meaning,” Norris told the press.

“I do see words make a big difference and the fact of how big something like this has become over the last few days already has a big impact.

“But I don’t think you can ask us what a deserved punishment is for someone who says something like that so a genuine mistake.

“It’s hard to know what that kind of punishment is and what’s deserved and what’s not.”

Nelson Piquet Snr at Chinese Grand Prix 2009 Credit: Action Images / Crispin Thruston

Vettel setting an example

Earlier in the week, McLaren expressed solidarity with their ex-driver Hamilton on social media.

Sebastian Vettel also stressed the importance of high-profile figures in F1 setting a good example to younger people, particularly within their own countries.

“I think it’s about setting that example. Forgiveness is valid, it obviously depends on what you’ve done but it’s clear that we all do mistakes,” said the German great.

“These little things that people look at and say ‘it’s not that bad’ or ‘it came out wrong’, well you really want those people to think about what they’re actually saying and to realise that they have made a mistake and to change their behaviour.”

Juri Vips also in the firing line

In response to question that also referenced Juri Vips, who was dropped by the Red Bull driver academy in the lead-up to the grand prix after saying ‘n***a’ on a Twitch livestream.

The Estonian had spent four years in the programme, but will retain his Formula 2 seat with Hitech GP.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – DECEMBER 14: Juri Vips of Estonia and Red Bull Racing prepares to drive in the garage during Formula 1 testing at the Yas Marina Circuit

“People make mistakes in life and careers I don’t think should be ended by something like that,” added Norris

“I think you should be able to get forgiven and get opportunities at other times and so on, so it’s obviously where that line is drawn.”


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