Former F1 world champion Nelson Beckett on Wednesday apologized to seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton for calling him a “little lion”.
“I sincerely apologize to everyone affected by this, including Lewis, who is a great driver,” the three-time world champion said in a statement. “But the translation in some of the media that is broadcast on social media media is incorrect.”
The 69-year-old Brazilian, who won the world champion in 1981, 1983 and 1987, used the word “niginho”, which in Portuguese means “little Negro” to turn to Hamilton during an interview with a podcast in Brazil, which he gave in November 2021 . and rebroadcast on Tuesday.
Beckett was discussing the crash between Hamilton and Dutch driver Max Verstappen on the first lap of last year’s British Grand Prix when he used the term knowing that the Brazilian’s daughter, Kelly, is the girlfriend of Verstappen, last season’s world champion.
“The little lions ran their car and left it because he didn’t have the opportunity to overtake two cars at that bend,” he said as Verstappen crashed into a wall at high speed and drove off.
On Wednesday, however, Beckett wanted to “clear up the stories being reported in the media.”
The Brazilian driver felt that “What I said I didn’t think well and don’t intend to defend myself, but I want to make it clear that the term used is a term that has been widely and historically used in Brazilian Portuguese. as a synonym for the word boy or man,” emphasizing that he did not mean to offend anyone.
“I will never use the word you are accused of in some translations. I strongly condemn any suggestion that I used the word in an attempt to humiliate the driver because of the color of his skin,” he added.
On Tuesday, Hamilton responded to what Beckett said by saying: “These are more than just words. It’s the mentality.”
The old ones must be replaced and they have no place in our sport.”
The world of Formula One, the International Automobile Federation (FIA), World Championship organizers, teams and drivers condemned Beckett’s words.