Max Verstappen says you can see the word Nelson Piquet used when referring to Lewis Hamilton “in two ways”, and doesn’t think “a three-time world champion” should be banned from the paddock.
After three-time F1 champion Nelson Piquet used a racial slur when referring to Lewis Hamilton, the boyfriend of his daughter Kelly, Max Verstappen, was asked to give his thoughts on the situation.
“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,” Verstappen said.
“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.”
However, the Dutch driver was adamant Piquet is not a racist.
“I’ve spent a bit of time with Nelson, 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.”
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Asked if he talked to Piquet about this, he said he thought it was ‘not up to him’ to do that.
“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 realised he used the wrong word, so who am I to then call him? I don’t think it will change anything anyway.
“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.”
Asked if he agrees with the paddock ban that Piquet has received, Verstappen said he doesn’t think that’s the correct way to go about this situation.
“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. When you have a fight with someone and you insult someone and you have a good chat and you apologise, 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,” Verstappen concluded.