A Brazilian court has cancelled the fine imposed on Nelson Piquet Jr for his offensive remarks directed at Lewis Hamilton.
In 2022, comments made by Piquet in response to the 2021 British Grand Prix collision between Max Verstappen and Hamilton resurfaced, with the three-time World Champion calling Hamilton 'neguinho'.
This translates from Portuguese as 'little Black man' - but Piquet insisted that the term was not racist, instead pointing to how it is sometimes used to describe a "guy" or "person." He apologised for his "ill-thought-out" remarks.
Piquet was taken to court by human right groups in Brazil over the comment, with a court earlier this year finding him liable to pay five million Brazilian Reals - about £811,709 GBP at current exchange rates.
However, as first reported by Brazilian outlet Metropoles, the Court of Justice of the Federal District and Territories - covering the capital Brasilia under its jurisdiction - has now cancelled the fine imposed on Piquet.
Piquet's lawyers successfully argued that his words were considered a deboche or mockery as opposed to the more serious discurso de odio or hate speech.
"There is no demonstration of hate speech. The use of terms from colloquial [informal] language, even if riddled with subtle or involuntary racist inspiration, even if inappropriate, does not carry sufficient gravity and relevance to characterize the collective damage," explained the judge in what was a unanimous ruling.
Piquet's charge of homophobia against Hamilton for saying "giving ass" was also disputed by the court, as it was argued that this was an act that could also be practiced in heterosexual relationships.
The decision is expected to be appealed to the Supreme Federal Court, the highest court in Brazilian law.