Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Silverstone, 2022

Verstappen: Piquet was wrong but isn’t racist and shouldn’t be banned from F1 paddock

2022 British Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen says Nelson Piquet is “definitely not a racist” but agrees the term he used to describe Lewis Hamilton was “very offensive”.

The reigning world champion, whose partner is Piquet’s daughter Kelly, also said the three-times world champion should not be banned from the Formula 1 paddock over his comments.

Piquet gave a partial apology for his comment about Hamilton in which he said the word he used was not intended as a racist insult.

Verstappen made it clear he did not agree with Piquet’s choice of words in an interview he gave last year which recently gained widespread attention.

“Everyone is against racism,” Verstappen said in a press conference for media including RaceFans. “I think it’s very straight, there’s nothing more you can make of that.

Report: Piquet gets F1 paddock ban after apologising to Hamilton but denying use of racial slur
“I think the wording which was used, even though of course with different kinds of cultures and things probably they said when they were little and younger, was not correct. Let it be a lesson for the future not to use that word because it’s very offensive and especially nowadays it gains even more traction.”

However he said his personal experience of meeting Piquet made him confident the three-times world champion did not mean to use a racial slur.

“I’ve spent a bit of time with Nelson, I think more than the average person in general, and he is definitely not a racist,” said Verstappen. “He’s actually a really nice and relaxed guy.

“I’m pretty sure also, in the statement he released, I think you can see the word in two ways. But I think it’s still just better not to use it.

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“But it’s not only about that word, it’s not about the ‘n-word’ in general, just using offensive language to anyone, any colour, I think is not correct and that’s what we have to work on in general all over the world not only in F1 with Lewis specifically but to anyone in the world.”

Verstappen, who referred to Piquet as his “father-in-law”, said he hasn’t spoken to him about his comments and the condemnation they provoked.

“I don’t think he needs me to tell him what is right and what isn’t,” he said. “He already said in his statement I think he realised that he used the wrong word.

“So who am I to then call him? I don’t think it will change anything anyway. I think he realised it was probably not the correct word to use – well, clearly it’s not the correct word to use.

“It can be interpreted in two ways and of course people pick up on the bad side and then it gets really blown out of proportion. Because I know Nelson personally, people label him as a racist now, which I don’t think he is. But I fully agree, of course, that you cannot use these words.”

RaceFans understands F1 will not permit Piquet to attend the paddock in light of his remarks. Verstappen said he doesn’t believe banning Piquet is the correct response to the situation.

“I think it’s better to open a conversation instead of banning because when you ban people, then you are actually not even helping the situation,” he said. “You’re not talking. You have to communicate.

“Communication is really important because if you just ban that is not helping what you’re trying to enforce, right? You’re trying to educate people. So it’s better to have a chat.

“These things can be very easily solved. When you have a fight with someone and you insult someone and you have a good chat and you apologise, in these kind of things is exactly the same. It’s of course not nice to the one you upset but things can be easily forgotten and as long you learn from the mistakes you made or the wording you use.

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“I don’t think you should be banned from from the paddock. And especially, I don’t think, a three-time world champion.”

Verstappen hasn’t spoken to Hamilton about Piquet’s comments. “We don’t need to talk because he has all my respect like every other driver, exactly the same,” he said, “and he knows how I feel and think about this situation just like any other driver. Together with F1 and Lewis we are all behind the initiatives taken already, we’re in full support.”

Report: F2 reacts with dismay as Hitech keep Vips in team after using racist language
His Red Bull team dismissed Juri Vips from its young driver programme earlier this week after he used a racial slur during a live video stream. However Vips’ Formula 2 team Hitech has taken no action against him and will continue to field him in the championship, a move which provoked criticism from the series organisers.

Verstappen believes Vips, like Piquet, deserves the opportunity to redeem himself.

“The team dealt with that also in a similar matter. He’s not part of Red Bull Racing at the moment as a reserve and test driver.

“But I do feel that people deserve a second chance. Probably not a third, but things can be very easily said probably sometimes not even really thought about how badly it can hurt someone or influence someone.

“I know Juri also probably a bit more than the average person and he is actually a super-nice guy. And I think he really understood what he did wrong because, of course, he is also now in a very difficult moment now in his career, everyone judging him.

“Fair enough: What he said was not correct. But I definitely think he deserves a second chance.

“I read the statement about F2 that they wouldn’t have done the same. But I think people deserve that second chance to show that they learnt from what they did wrong and actually go out there and show that you can be a better person or at least be more educated about what you are going to say.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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75 comments on “Verstappen: Piquet was wrong but isn’t racist and shouldn’t be banned from F1 paddock”

  1. I agree with Max.

    1. I do too.

      Real freedom means allowing other people to freely think and express themselves, even if you disagree with it.

      Tyranny is evil no matter what guise it wears.

      1. Controversial.
        Utter rubbish, in my opinion.
        Nobody has the right to racially abuse someone.
        Teaching children, in the process.

        1. I don’t agree with racial abuse, but we also have to take into account cultural norms. It’s easy to dismiss what people say in other cultures because it conflicts with our own belief and value systems. There has to be a level of tolerance and some acceptance that people are going to make mistakes and they should be allowed to show they’ve learned from their mistake.

          1. Piquet spent over 10 years racing for British teams, presumably spending a large portion of his time there and understanding the culture.

            He also called Senna “gay” and Enzo Ferrari “senile”.

            He knew exactly what he was saying about Hamilton. He’s just so arrogant, he never thought it would come back to bite him.

          2. That racism is so embedded in a culture that they don’t even know they are being racists is a weird flex.

          3. I tend to agree with max on this, well at least partially… if someone says something racist/or a bad taste joke (insulting someone) yeah you gotta warn them by communication. but if you draw a line and give a partial ban at first instance and longer/permanent ban/punishment that would do a better job! Free speech at the cost of someone’s personal expense is not really free speech, it only allows invasion of more personal privacy! Attacking/insulting someone personally constantly should not be tolarated!

            This the same guy saying different tasteless things

            He said many other tasteless stuff before, what makes people think he is not racist? if you allow him to talk like that, he will never stop. oops sorry did it again wont cut it anymore!

          4. @lejimster82r82, this line of excused about “their culture” and being misinterpreted is getting really old now.

            In the other part of that same interview Piquet comments on how Rosberg won the championship from Hamilton (again referring to him with the same slur) because Lewis was too busy (using homophobic language).

            Part of that is beeped out, since clearly the Brazillian TV station knew they couldn’t broadcast homophobic and racist language. And the guy doing the interview is clearly uncomfortable listening (although really he should have just interrupted the interview there). They understood, so why are you trying to claim it is somehow normal to say these kind of things. They most certainly did not misinterpret their own language.

          5. Pedro Lopes Garcia
            1st July 2022, 10:31

            @bascb I’m Brazilian and the usage the he refers as “guy” is never in case of “that guy” it is always indefinite subject like “a guy”, “someone” etc. Some people still use with some very close friends or family, never with someone that is not close to you. Also in Portuguese tone is quite important and if you put all together, phrasing, wording, tone there is no doubt even for us that he was being racist in his comment.

          6. Exactly Pedro Lopez Garcia.

    2. There is no forgiveness left for folks that make mistakes. Thank you Max, for a dose of forgiveness in this madness.

      1. Mistakes?

        Ooops, I accidentally used a racist term TWICE!

        Yeah, I see what you mean… not!

    3. not agreed that my banned his family also

    4. jamesluke2488
      2nd July 2022, 16:19

      Not all racists are nasty people all the time. A individual can be a wonderful person, kind caring and show these qualities regularly but still have racist opinions. These opinions may come out periodically, just like Nelson, but the fact he is a nice guy normally or the fact he is of an older generation, does not excuse him. We live in a world now where it is clear what racist language is and why we shouldnt use it. He is not a child. Anyone trying to make excuses for him or anyone like him is simply supporting or promoting the idea you can be racist if you have an excuse. So MAX is completely wrong here. We should be condemning his comments and also calling out Max for his role in this. We need to teach the young generation it is not acceptable to use such language regardless of the individual or circumstance. Including those people who see comments on websites like these. To see anything other than a complete condemning of Nelson is shocking in todays society.

  2. When the word, instead of the intention, is treated as the problem, then we have a problem with discernment. You can call someone “honey” and be more offensive than using the n word to your mate. But people pretend that this is not part of the equation.

    1. Fairly certain the issue here has been the context in which Piquet used the word that has put him in trouble. Of course context matters.

      1. Yeah, but I agree with André. The whole discussion nowadays is more about certain words instead of what a person means or intends to do. Besides, at the moment we are not teaching anyone anything but instead we’re simply cancelling people for certain mistakes.

  3. People deserve second chances no doubt however they must earn it. Piquet should show that he is learning from this event before he is allowed back just like Vips. They can surely do things to show they are more aware of culture and appropriate language. They can attend courses and spend time with underseeved communities.
    I am of the opinion that none of these people are racists however they lack insight or understanding into the right kind of words and language to use

    1. Pedro Lopes Garcia
      1st July 2022, 10:33

      Piquet is like that forever, he was always racist, homophobic and a terrible human being. He does not accept that he made something wrong so he will never change.

      1. did you see his interview with nigel mansel, he was asked if he was better than senna, and he disgustingly said he was alive and there so he was the better one… even nigel mansel was disgusted from his tasteless comment/joke or whatever. this guy did so many other rubbish in the past… it is not like he did this one time slip… as you said, he seems he has been like that forever, and noone tried to correct him and he still think it was all ok, until now.

  4. The younger generation only know how to ban, Cancel and deplatform people as they cannot stand debate.

    Why bother telling someone why they are wring qhen you can just prevent them from talking to begin with.

    And then everyone wonders why the world has become so polarised, Especially when it comes to politics.

    I remember what 15 odd years ago the BBC were criticised for having the leader of the BNP on question time. But them doing so ended up been the best thing anyone could have done because when debating and having to explain the parties views it became clear they were a tacist party who had views they couldn’t defend and it did more to damage that party and its members than banning or cancelling them ever could have.

    1. Sorry for the spelling oddities. Still getting used to typing on a tablet touchscreen.

    2. This is utter nonsense, full of appropriated right-wing buzzwords.
      Consider how many people have literally been “cancelled” (ie. killed) by racial discrimination.
      Fundamental human rights should not be up for “debate”.
      Denying Piquet access to the F1 paddock is not “deplatforming”.

      1. Killing or enslaving people is wrong

        Cancelling is also wrong

        But no
        They are not the same

    3. The younger generation only know how to ban, Cancel and deplatform people as they cannot stand debate

      I’m of an age that being lumped in with others who deplatform offensive oiks actually pleases me.
      I’d say having black friends and black relatives might be considered something to provide a bias, but I felt the same way back in the 60s before I met the friends or acquired the relatives.
      Back then, I found that the best way to deal with disagreeable oiks was to use a combination of belittlement and what is now known as cancel culture – but seemingly only labelled as such by people who stretch my tolerance.
      Some are ignorant of the correct behaviour, others are fully aware of what they have done wrong and continue to repeat the bad behaviour.

    4. The number of people who don’t understand the tolerance paradox is astounding.

      Freedom without responsibility is what a child demands; getting called out publicly for being insensitive, inflammatory, or wrong seems pretty tame.

  5. Piquet was wrong and used the word in a deprecating manner.

    He could have used hundreds of different, more neutral, terms, but chose to use one of very few terms that aludes to the color of the skin, when refering to the only black driver of the grid.

    Good luck defending that.

    1. Well said

  6. The question is, does using racial slurs make you a racist? Arguably no..

    But it does make you impolite and quite insulting to some race.

    Part of racism is consistent degradation of perticular group. So using racial slurs is a perticularly slippery ground.

    Do we want people in the padock who call someone something racially neutral but still quite impolite and neutrally degrading?

    I think not.

    But we can all agree, if Piquet called Lewis a jacka$$, we would not hold this conversation.

    We can debate Piquets racism, but it is easy to say his language is racially insulting.

    Maybe not the kind of person F1 should associate with, so they pulled some moves to distance from that kind of talk.

    A necessity for any modern company.

  7. This is all part of Ferrari master blan. Let the others take all the media attention and forget how they will again fail to win the championship…

  8. Words are used to express thoughts, feelings, emotions. Suddenly the word is only just a word? Separated from the intent of the mind, the result of the thinking, the emotion that drives it? Words that this Brazilian used is not uttered by accident. It’s the mirror of his emotions, thinking and all that. He meant it. He believed in it,That word said about his kind, his ilk, who for some reasons, despite the championship and presumably a certain degree of wealth, thinks he is above non white. How shallow and uneducated. Max has to explain that he didn’t mean it? You need Max to validate that for you? Therefore it is OK? Max’s statements are full of contradictions. If you just sprouted words, and then said they are just words, it makes you a thoughtless being, who can’t control your brain. Perhaps it is the case?

  9. digitalrurouni
    30th June 2022, 18:41

    I agree with Max actually.

  10. Agree with Max in that Piquet shouldn’t be banned from the Paddock. Allow him to show face now he’s been put in the spotlight… how else is he going to change?

    Same with Vips. Cancelling them altogether could backfire, it’s not going to make a profound effect IMO.

    1. Nikos (@exeviolthor)
      1st July 2022, 5:47


      What you say has merit. On the other hand, though, how would Hamilton feel when he would meet Picquet and he would have to behave as if everything is cool?
      The victim’s feelings in such cases need to be taken into consideration.

      1. @exeviolthor
        Why would not banning Piquet in any way require Hamilton to behave as if everything is cool?
        Your last sentence is exactly on the point. It not up to us, but above all up to Hamilton to decide how he things this should be dealt with, because he is the one who was offended (even in case that the word were not mean to be racial, it would still be still insultingly condescending). By all means let Piquet in the paddock, where he can experience first hand what people (above all Hamilton) feel about his conduct.

  11. I believe that Piquet should be band. So, good decision. I do believe that Piquet should show action that gets him unbanned in the future. So, I even though Max thinks the punishment does not fit the crime, I think that Piquet should know better and did exactly has he intended. For that, we have to show that even what he intended is not acceptable for it builds on past experiences that are not admirable.

    As for Vips, I agree wholeheartedly with the stance of HiTech. He should be given the opportunity to continue…

    1. As Lewis intimated earlier in the week there comes a point when we stop offering 2nd chances and take action that hopefully prevents further incidents of this kind.
      Piquet knew what he was saying imho, Vips’ seemed less intentional but either way such statements have for long enough received the usual crafted condemnation yet still they surface. Let actions speak louder than words. There needs to be consequences.

      1. “Piquet knew what he was saying imho” thats exactly the point, enough is enough… he is old enough to know his words’ intentions… he has said much more than racist stuff in the past, so it is not an first time oops moment. if this didnt come out, do you think he would come out and apologize? he had many chances, so no giving him another 2nd chance would serve nothing

  12. Soft talks and equal distances.0 People like Max should dig a bit deeper and understand why this is so important. If he was from Africa he would be more sensitive about it because he would have experienced discrimination and racism. Millions of people have suffered. We should be living an era of zero tolerance. Zero.

    1. For everyone, right?

      1. Of course for everyone. What do you mean

        1. That there is zero tolerance for everyone. No matter what cultural background you have. No excuse for anyone.

  13. In other news… Max doesn’t know what the word Racist means…

  14. Max is on point once again.

  15. Again Max is the voice of sanity.

    1. What he said, showed anything by sanity.

      He’s smoking this Championship and now puts himself under pressure from the very powerful woke brigade, because he’s decide to find a reason for comments that simply cannot be defended – racist or not.

      Incidentally, I’m not all at sensitive to racism. Like all bigotry it’s a fact of life and it will never be eradicated – those who think it can be are spectacularly naive. But it’s them who have very powerful voices and Max himself has behaved naively.

    2. If Max is the voice of Sanity then u are delusional.I expected nothing less from Max considering Piquet daughter is his girlfriend. The only reason Piquet got involved in the Convo is for that reason. He used the same word in talking Abt Rosberg beating Lewis in 2016..

  16. Spectacularly naive comments from Max.

    Some on here, said that he would find a way to defend Piquet – I didn’t believe them. How wrong I was!!

    1. I guess Max is hardly going to feel discriminated by Piquet @banbrorace!

      Yeah, at first his words started off decently hopeful he got it. But then he went on and it was clear he was exactly doing what I had expected (the stuff about him being a nice guy – ask Senna, or Mansell about his character!), and “communication” and “second chances”.

    2. Canceling leads to polarizing, and polarizing leads to extremism.
      We already have enough of that in this world.

  17. MingTheMercyless
    30th June 2022, 23:04

    If people are determined to be offended, there’s nothing you can do about that.

  18. Meanwhile Ferrari blows their shot at the championship and the porpoising directive may seal the deal for RB, yet all the discussion is on someone or the other’s naughty words.

  19. Ah well, now Piquet gets to learn and hopefully one day come back with a proper apology. Or maybe he will just live in denial the rest of his life.

    His apology amounted to, “I killed this man, with this gun, I’m so sorry if he feels like that ended his life, but I never intended to, so I’m not a killer.”

    Compare it to Vips who said he made the mistake and wholeheartedly apologised with no conditions other than for himself to do better in the future.

    1. @skipgamer you don’t know this but in Brazil they say this word live on tv, it is not like the other one. In my view it is an apology that fits the crime.

  20. When I read the headline I was sure Max was going to dig himself a supermassive black hole but I shouldn’t have doubted him. He is a phenomenal speaker. Well handled.

    1. The one that is digging a hole here is Racefans actually…

    2. I think his PR team has something to do with this. But he could say nothing as it’s kind of family of him but he said his father in law was wrong.

      1. Yep poor little BrakeTester, defending his racist nearest and dearest. Hopefully the BrakeTester won’t crash into anybody at Silverstone this year. BrakeTester 1 lap Masi Rules Champion 2021.

  21. When Max Verstappen is the voice of reason in a discussion, it’s a very strange day for me.

    Well said, Max.

  22. Another week for f1 where I’m really desperate to get to some cars on the track, bouncing or not.

  23. This feels distinctly weasel. Max has been reprimanded by Red Bull for offensive remarks he has made over the radio (to Stroll I think)… at least the ones that we have heard. You have to but wonder what other offensive remarks have been uttered in the garage that have not been called out… yet. Mark my words, it is simply a matter of time before he lets slip with something equally if not more offensive. And I bet I can tell you exactly what Red Bulls reaction will be.

  24. Nikos (@exeviolthor)
    1st July 2022, 5:56

    I have mixed feelings about this.
    On the one hand, a total ban without giving Picquet a chance to explain himself does not feel right and it just seems as an attempt from F1 to distance themselves because they are afraid of the impact this could have in their pockets.
    On the other hand, I feel that all the sympathy towards Picquet by some people would be better directed to Hamilton who is the real victim in this case.

    1. I actually think it’s a good thing that this sort of thing tends to hit institutions “in the pocket” @exeviolthor. It gives them an incentive to deal with issues that would probably otherwise end up being brushed under the carpet.

      Here in the UK the Yorkshire cricket scandal is a case in point. The club was accused of racism by a number of ex-players – their response was to commission a private report that (unsurprisingly) largely exonerated the club, but which couldn’t be made public for “legal reasons.” It was only in the wake of this whitewash, when sponsors started pulling out and the club stood to lose its right to host international fixtures, that meaningful action started to be taken.

      As much as we would like organisations to commit to anti-racism and other worthy causes without being financially pressured to do so, the reality is that it’s the only language they understand.

      1. Exactly, @red-andy. It is a reality that institutions tend to keep doing what they were doing, shuffling unpleasant information under the carpet etc, to prevent having to change their ways. It needs pressure to force them to change. And the most effective pressure is to their pockets.

        I actually think Hamilton is pretty tired of having people be sympathetic with him as a victim etc. He rightly asks that the system changes so that he, and the many other people who are targetted by discrimination and racism don’t need the expressions of sympathy anymore.

        In the end, this is not really about Hamilton at all. It is about all of us. And it is about our insitutions, companies, media, and we as a society ourselves changing tune and stop putting down and othering people for no good reason. If Piquet wasn’t ingrained in a racist society, and not used to such phrases being casually used, he would never even think of using it, even in his angry reaction to an incident where Hamilton was mostly to blame for a crash of his daughters boyfriend. The same goes for the likes of Ecclestone, Dr. Marko, etc.

    2. Nikos (@exeviolthor)
      1st July 2022, 8:14


      Fair points from both of you. Thanks!

  25. I agree with verstappen, especially the 2nd chances part, but that goes for everyone, including that 15 years old kid that made what was interpeted as a n-a-z-i salute.

  26. I agree with Max here, but however important discussions about racism and other forms of discrimination are, I find myself irritated that on the day of the start of the british grand prix 4 of 5 top stories are about racism and jewellery that Lewis can or can not wear. Hello? Race weekend?

  27. I like what Max has said. I feel that Max is in the uncomfortable position of answering the question, given his relationship to Piquet’s daughter.

    That being said Nelson Piquet is nearly 70 years old and has grown up in a very different society. I don’t speak Portuguese, as such, whilst I know what the offending word translates to, however, some English words that have been previously acceptable and now are not, are still used by some of the older generation, not out of offence, merely from a different viewpoint of word meaning from their time.

  28. I seriously dislike Max and am a Hamilton supporter but on this case I fully agree with Max. I disagree in that Piquet was wrong. Context matters and the word he used is in no way shaper or form similar as to the US ‘N word’. Pretending that US and Eurocentric values be applied in other cultures is racist itself. Piquet did not use the word with in that manner.

  29. Just came to surface another video of Piquet saying both Rosbergs are garbage and that Nico only won his title because the N was getting F in the A more than his usual that year, so he was kinda weak.

    Let’s see how our friends here make nothing of this now.

    1. Exactly, I posted a link for the new reports but RaceFans is blocking it.
      So much for the ‘affectionate use’ argument. Plenty of us said it was an entirely fake (pro-racist argument). Verstappen defends dear old pa-in-law, and now even more muck from Piquet’s mouth and mind surface.
      Should be banned for life now. It’s clear he’s been speaking like this about Hamilton in interviews for years.

  30. A BreakTester defends a racist. Surprise surprise. Hamilton is class, 8 x FIA Rules F1 World Champion.

  31. Well that moment of defence from Max aged well

  32. The new report of what Piquet has been saying about Hamilton was published by a Brazilian F1 blog and were thoroughly condemned there. To make it clear, his speech is typical of racist and homophonic white Brazilians, pure Bolsonaro-ism, hate-filled, uneducated, abusive and violent. About as unpleasant as people get. Ecclestone must like him.

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