Max Verstappen admitted the wording used by triple Formula 1 Champion Nelson Piquet when referring to Lewis Hamilton was not correct, but insisted the Brazilian is not racist.
The 2021 F1 Champion was dragged into the latest controversy since he is currently dating Piquet daughter Kelly, and since the racial slur the former Brazilian F1 driver used was part of an interview where he was giving his opinion on last year’s incident between Verstappen and Hamilton in Silverstone at Copse corner.
Verstappen did not defend on justify what Piquet said, admitting it was wrong, but also claimed, that knowing his girlfriend’s father, he assured he wasn’t a racist.
“I’ve spent a bit of time with Nelson,” he said. “I think more than the average person in general, and he’s definitely not a racist.
“He’s actually a really nice and relaxed guy, and I’m pretty sure that also the statement he released, I think you can see the word in two ways. But I think it’s still better not to use it.
Piquet used incorrect wording
“I think the wording that was used, even though of course with different kinds of cultures and things they said when they were little and younger, was not correct,” the Dutchman admitted.
“Let it be a lesson for the future not to use that word, because it’s very offensive, and especially nowadays, it gains more traction,” he added.
The Red Bull ace claimed that Piquet realizes the gravity of his actions, and did not need anyone to show him that.
He said: “I’m not going to call him and go hey man, that’s not correct – I think he knows that himself. He already said in his statement, I think he realized he used the wrong word, so who am I to then call him?
“I don’t think it will change anything anyway,” the reigning Champion insisted. “As he said, it can be interpreted in two ways, and of course people pick up on the bad side and it gets really blown out of proportion, because I know Nelson personally.
“People of course label him as a racist now, which I don’t think he is, but I fully agree that you cannot use those words,” Verstappen conceded.
Banning people won’t help
The British Racing Drivers Club, the BRDC announced that they have suspended Piquet’s honorary membership in the club, with reports also mentioning that F1 management are also considering banning him indefinitely from the paddock.
Verstappen commented on these reports saying: “When you ban people, you are actually not even helping the situation, you are not talking.
“You have to communicate. Communication is really important, because if you just ban, it’s not helping what you’re trying to enforce. You’re trying to educate people. So it’s better to have a chat.
“These things can be very easily solved,” he insisted. “When you have a fight with someone and you insult someone and you have a good chat and you apologize, and these kinds of things, it’s exactly the same. It’s not nice, the one you upset, but things can be easily forgotten.
“As long as you learn from the mistake you made or the wording you used, I don’t think you should be banned from the paddock, especially a three-time world champion,” the 24-year-old concluded.