Issue: Redbull’s (lack of) response to Nelson Piquet’s racist remarks
Three time Formula 1 Champion and former Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet made (undeniably) racist remarks about seven time World Champion Lewis Hamilton, referring to him as what translates to the n-word in English. Yikes.
At the time of writing, almost every team and driver in F1 has put out statements condemning racism in all forms and standing by Lewis Hamilton.
Calling all F1 fans, old and new, cast your mind back to Summer 2021 and the ‘incident’ between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen at Silverstone which saw the Dutchman spin off the grid in a high-speed, highly dangerous fashion and which threw the Drivers Championship wide open and attracted much attention regarding Hamilton’s role in being “predominantly to blame for the incident”.
Now back to the present day – Nelson Piquet’s extremely derogatory comments about Hamilton’s role in the crash, made on a podcast appearance last year, have come to light. He also happens to be the father of Kelly Piquet who is, wait for it, the long-term girlfriend of 2021 champion Max Verstappen, the same Max Verstappen involved in the above situation.
For context, this is not the first time that Piquet has attracted unwanted attention. It was only last year that eyebrows were raised when he chauffeured the far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Independence Day. And back in his driving days he not only publicly questioned racing legend Ayrton Senna’s sexuality referring to him as “the Sao Paulo taxi driver” but also made offensive comments about British driver Nigel Mansell’s wife.
One guess for the team and driver who have yet to respond? That’s right, Red Bull and Max Verstappen have remained silent on the issue, despite the fact that Red Bull Racing just fired their reserve driver Juri Vips for using a racial slur during an online live stream…go figure.
The ‘line to take’
Our initial response: You should know better.
Well, considering we don’t need to break down tone, choice of words or length let’s turn to the obvious: is no response a good response? In this case, absolutely not.
While it is understandable that hitting out against your future father-in-law is an uncomfortable place to find oneself, it is no excuse to stay silent. Furthermore, for the Red Bull team, just because one of your drivers is dating this man’s daughter, you don’t get carte blanche to say nothing, particularly given past indiscretions.
Lest we forget the ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘End Racism’ campaign F1 championed in the 2020 season, where drivers and team members frequently sported shirts, badges, and even took the knee on occasion. Oh wait, that’s right Verstappen remained standing. Oh and wasn’t there that incident where Red Bull Racing had to fire three top executives, including their North America CEO Stefan Kozak, after a racist map of the world was displayed at a conference? Looks like it’s not just Piquet who has previous…
You would think that a company that has a poor track record (excuse the pun) when it comes to tackling racism would be desperate to demonstrate its credentials by facing the issue head on and spearheading the collective response. Perhaps they consider their weak statement after the firing of Vips as adequate fodder in neutralising the situation and acting as a blanket statement; killing two racist birds with one Pirelli sized stone without having to address the more inflammatory statement.
Well, we’ll tell you one thing for free, it hasn’t worked. Twitter is ablaze with F1 fans, and more importantly Red Bull/Verstappen fans, dismayed at the lack of an immediate response and even more so at the indication that there won’t be a statement at all. The clock is ticking; the more they delay, the more attention they draw to themselves and the worse the fallout gets.
It is needless to say that with the majority of teams and drivers rallying behind Hamilton, it could make for an interesting and possibly tense paddock at the upcoming Silverstone Grand Prix this weekend. It is almost guaranteed the press will hone in on Verstappen and Red Bull if they still haven’t made a statement by the weekend. Watch this space to see how they respond under pressure.
Does the job
Piss poor ✅