Ex-F1 driver Nelson Piquet fined a million dollars for homophobic comments

Ex-F1 driver Nelson Piquet fined a million dollars for homophobic comments

Former Formula 1 driver, Nelson Piquet was fined for disparaging Lewis Hamilton in a racist and homophobic manner. A court ruling issued on Friday, March 24, ordered the 70-year-old to pay five million Brazilian Reals, or $950,000.

According to a court decision released on Friday, Nelson Piquet, a three-time Formula One champion, was sentenced to pay a fine of about $1 million as moral damages for his remarks that were homophobic and racially insensitive toward Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

Nelson Piquet is known to have made racist remarks about Lewis Hamilton on a Brazilian podcast as the 2021 Formula 1 season came to a dramatic finish.

Piquet was talking about the British driver’s competition with Max Verstappen, who also happens to be Piquet’s daughter’s boyfriend.

The incident ended up in court after first receiving significant criticism. The verdict in that case was announced last Friday, and the judge assessed a substantial fine for the three-time F1 champion’s misdeeds.

According to Motorspot.com, Piquet was sued by four human rights organizations for his offensive and racial remarks.

The organizations, which included the National LGBT+ Alliance of Brazil, demanded 10 million Brazilian reals ($1.9 million) in compensation for moral damages. Half of the sought-after damages, or 5 million reals ($950,000), were awarded in favor of the plaintiffs by a Brazilian civil court.

The court action centered on remarks made by Piquet during an interview with Ricardo Oliveira in November 2021. Piquet talked about the crash between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen at Silverstone during the podcast.

Piquet decided to call Hamilton by a racist slur that roughly translates to “little black” in Brazilian Portuguese. In the larger Brazilian society, the word is viewed as being extremely discriminatory and disrespectful.

Piquet also used homophobic and racial slurs towards Hamilton in another podcast, which was captured on video and used as evidence in the prosecution.

The Brazilian brought up the subject of Hamilton losing the 2016 championship to Nico Rosberg during the podcast interview. It is well known that the former F1 driver frequently used homophobic insults to refer to rival driver Ayrton Senna in the 1990s.

The event exposed negative views in F1 as well as in society at large. Following the initial encounter, Hamilton wrote on social media that “It goes beyond language. These outdated viewpoints must change because they have no place in our sport.”

Piquet would later retract his remarks and offer a feeble defense that he had not intended to offend anyone based on their race. He was nonetheless expelled from the Formula 1 paddock and denied continued honorary membership in the British Racing Drivers Club as a result of his actions.

In the decision, the judge expressed a highly negative opinion of Piquet’s actions. The level of the fine assessed was purposefully chosen to be high in order to deter racism and homophobia in society at large.

The court said in a statement that the decision will fulfill “the reparatory purpose of civil responsibility, but also (and possibly largely) the penal function, exactly so that as a society we can one day get rid of the destructive deeds that are racism and homophobia.”

Judge Pedro Matos de Arrude claimed that Piquet’s remarks violated 2010 legislation against racial discrimination in Brazil. The court found little support for Piquet’s claims that the phrases were not insulting.

De Arruda added that the phrase used by Piquet was “not an affectionate nickname,” adding that “subtlety is one of the characteristics of current Brazilian racism.” The substantial penalties, according to DW.com, would go toward “funds for the promotion of racial equality and against prejudice of the LGBTQIA+ community.”

Piquet is still free to challenge the court’s decision in an appeal. It will be interesting to watch if he takes advantage of the chance to make amends or press the issue further.

In any event, this is likely a singular instance when racist action is experiencing genuine repercussions.

Many people would concur with the Brazilian court that a nearly seven-figure punishment is sufficient deterrent factor for such atrocious behavior.

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