Calls for Formula 1 to take action against Nelson Piquet are multiplying in the wake of the three-time F1 world champion's blundering use of a racial slur in an interview while talking about Lewis Hamilton.
Piquet was speaking last November to Motorsport Talks Ricardo Oliveira and revisiting the dramatic clash between Hamilton and Max Verstappen at last year's British Grand Prix that ended with the Red Bull driver smashing into the barriers.
But the interview with Piquet resurfaced last Monday and was picked up by Brazilian media, including a CNN affiliate.
During his talk with Oliveira, Piquet used the word 'neguinho' in Portuguese in reference to Hamilton, and while the expression is perhaps not as derogatory as the N-word in English, the context in which it was used certainly pointed to a disparaging and racial intent.
Adding perhaps another layer to Piquet's critical mindset during the interview is the fact that the Brazilian's daughter, Kelly, is Verstappen's partner in life.
Needless to say, Piquet's comment immediately generated a wave of reprimand and anger on social media.
Formula 1 issued a statement in which it firmly condemned Piquet's discriminatory remark, although it did none, rather oddly, specifically reference the Brazilian.
"Discriminatory or racist language is unacceptable in any form and has no part in society. Lewis is an incredible ambassador for our sport and deserves respect," read the statement.
"His tireless efforts to increase diversity and inclusion are a lesson to many and something we are committed to at F1."
Mercedes also issued a statement in support of its driver, as did the FIA, while Hamilton himself took to social media to call for changes to "archaic mindsets"
"These archaic mindsets need to change and have no place in our sport. I’ve been surrounded by these attitudes and targeted my whole life," said the seven-time world champion.
"There has been plenty of time to learn. Time has come for action."
It's currently unknown if F1 will take the matter into its own hands and ban Nelson Piquet from the paddock. But calls for such an action are ramping up.
In a media roundtable on Wednesday, F1 world champion and Sky F1 pundit Damon Hill believes Formula 1 does indeed need to take a stand while Piquet should apologise.
"This is beyond the pale now," said Hill. "Even allowing for possible misunderstandings in the difference in languages between the Brazilian term and here, certainly it’s something that demands an apology.
"But I’m not sure what sort of apology would be sufficient. It’s very sad, really.
"Poor Lewis for having to put up with this constantly. It’s blighted his experience of being a Formula 1 driver, perhaps more than we’ll ever understand."
The Piquet affair emerged as Red Bull took action against its reserve driver Juri Vips, who was dropped on Tuesday by the Milton Keynes-based outfit for having used the N-word on Twitch during a live-stream of a video game.
"This was a case of there being verifiable evidence that something was said and done," Hill added, referring to Piquet’s comment.
"You’ve got Juri Vips as well - swift action has been taken against Juri. We have to be sure that the sport is not just nodding in the direction of political correctness. It has to be absolutely clear.
"For a long time, I’ve wished that the sport upheld and made it abundantly clear that it upholds certain values. But the argument against that was they couldn’t be political. That’s what their response was, it was we’re not a political organisation, we can’t.
"But this is not politics. This is decent human values. And surely a sport should be about those things."