Max Verstappen has offered his support to Lewis Hamilton but says Nelson Piquet is "definitely not" a racist, despite the Brazilian having used an alleged racial slur to describe the seven-time World Champion in a Portuguese interview.
Verstappen, who is currently dating Piquet's daughter Kelly, has described the 69-year-old former racer as a "really nice and relaxed guy" who used a word that "was not correct" to reference Hamilton.
"I've spent a bit of time with Nelson – more than the average person in general – and he's definitely not a racist," said Verstappen, speaking to members of the media, including RacingNews365.com, at Silverstone.
"He's actually a really nice and relaxed guy. The wording which was used – even though there are different kinds of cultures and it's probably something they said when they were younger – was not correct.
"He knows that himself. I don't think he needs me to tell him what is right and what isn't. Let it be a lesson for the future not to use that word because it's very offensive.
"It can be interpreted in two ways and people pick up on the bad side and, of course, it gets really blown out of proportion."
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Verstappen: Piquet must learn, not be banned
Piquet's comments have been strongly condemned by Formula 1, Mercedes and a number of other teams and drivers. He has since apologised, admitting that his choice of words was "ill-thought-out".
There have been reports that the 23-time Grand Prix winner could be banned from the paddock following the incident, something that Verstappen is against.
"People label him as a racist now, which I don't think he is, but I fully agree of course you cannot use these words," he continued.
"I think it's better to open a conversation than to ban people. You are not helping the situation by doing that. It's not helping what you are trying to enforce. It's better to chat.
"I don't think he should be banned from the paddock – especially as he's a three-time World Champion."
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