Footage emerged in the Brazilian press of three-time F1 champion Nelson Piquet calling Hamilton a racist word in November 2021 when discussing the seven-time champion’s crash with Max Verstappen at last year’s British GP.

Hamilton released a series of passionate tweets on his social media account, calling for change.

The following day, Piquet issued a statement, apologising “wholeheartedly” to Hamilton but disputed that the word he used was racist, and claimed it was mistranslated.

On Thursday, ex-F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said that Hamilton “should be happy” with Piquet’s apology, and then backed Russian president Vladimir Putin and his decision to invade Ukraine. 

Speaking at the FIA’s pre-race press conference, Vettel said: “It is more than just the recent days if we are very honest. It is probably what he [Hamilton] has been through, and his family, his entire life. Any form of abuse is wrong so I think it was great to see there was so much response from all of the F1 community and so quickly, people responded and expressed support on the matter towards Lewis. 

“I don't think there should be any room for these kinds of comments. We still have to do a lot... I think we have come a lot further than many years ago but it doesn't help when there are still these things out there and people still saying inappropriate or using inappropriate language and saying the wrong things. 

“I think is very important to talk about it and to continue to talk about it because as I said, it is not gone, it won't be gone overnight, that would be great, but it is a bigger matter and F1 in that regard has a responsibility to carry and to address these issues, which I think we are trying to.”

The four-time world champion insisted that it is F1’s responsibility to force change through its ‘WeRaceAsOne’ campaign.

“We have the campaign, WeRaceAsOne, and it is very clear where we are going and where we want to go in the future,” Vettel added. “More than language, and the things we are trying to do, is how we behave and how we include everyone there is, no matter which colour you are, no what type of partner you have, what is your sexual orientation, so any community is welcome. 

“We should always respond in that way very quickly and make it clear we are open to everyone because kindness matters, people matter and it was bad to see what was going on.”

Should they be forgiven?

Red Bull were forced to sack junior driver Juri Vips earlier in the week after he made a racist remark during a gaming stream.

Vips will still compete with Hitech Grand Prix for the remainder of the F2 season, although the series has disagreed with their decision. 

Norris feels that in certain circumstances, drivers like Vips should be given a second chance provided they can prove that they have changed.

“I think there’s a difference between someone making a mistake and having used a wrong word versus someone who is purposely trying to do it to discriminate and have it in the wrong meaning,” Norris explained. “Any racist language or slurs are never accepted. I do see that just words do make a big difference and the fact of how big something like this has become over the last few days. 

“I think that already has a big impact. I don’t think you can ask us what a deserved punishment is for someone that says something like that. If it’s a genuine mistake, it’s hard to know what that punishment should be, what’s deserved or what’s not. 

“People make mistakes in life and careers, I don’t think should be ended just because of something like that. You should be able to get forgiven and get opportunities at other times [to prove yourself]. It’s tough to know where that line is drawn at times.”