TOWCESTER, England -- Max Verstappen said the racial slur Nelson Piquet used to describe Lewis Hamilton is "not correct" but insisted the three-time world champion is "definitely not a racist."
Verstappen knows Piquet, the father of his girlfriend, Kelly, better than most in the Formula One paddock and was quick to say the 69-year-old should not have used the word he did.
This week, footage circulated of Piquet using a racial slur to describe Hamilton from a podcast recorded last year. Piquet, who apologised but claimed the word has two different meanings in Brazilian Portuguese, was talking about Verstappen's collision with Hamilton at last year's British Grand Prix when the word was used.
"Everyone is against racism, it's very straight," Verstappen said ahead of this year's Silverstone event. "There's nothing more you can make of that. I think the wording that was used, even with the different kind of cultures and things they probably said when they were younger, was not correct.
"Let it be a lesson for the future not to use that word because it's very offensive, especially nowadays it gains more traction."
Verstappen said it is unfair to call Piquet racist based on that one instance.
"I've spent a bit of time with Nelson, probably more than the average person in general, and he's definitely not a racist," Verstappen said. "He's actually a nice and pretty relaxed guy. Also the statement he released, I think you can see the word in two ways, but I think it is still just better not to use it.
"But it's not only about that word, it's not about the N-word, in general, it's using offensive language to anyone of any colour, is not correct. And that's what we have to work on all over the world, not just in F1 with Lewis but to anyone in the world."
When asked if he had talked to Piquet about it, Verstappen said: "It's not up to me to talk to my father-in-law. Like any of you [talking to your father-in-law] and say, 'Hey man, that's not correct.' I think he knows that himself."
F1 sources have told ESPN that Piquet has been banned from the paddock as a result of the racial slur, although they have not confirmed it publicly.
Although Piquet rarely visits the paddock, Verstappen does not think that is the right course of action.
"I think it's better to open a conversation than ban him. Because when you ban people, you are actually not even helping the situation, you are not talking.
"You have to communicate and communication is really important. Because if you just ban, it is not helping what you are trying to enforce, right? You are trying to educate people, so it is better to have a chat.
"As long as you learn from the mistake you made and the wording you used, I don't think you should be banned from the paddock. And especially a three-time world champion."