Max Verstappen has stated Nelson Piquet is "not a racist" but condemned the Brazilian's "very offensive" slur towards Lewis Hamilton.
The former Formula One champion has faced backlash after an interview emerged following last season's British Grand Prix in which he was alleged to have used a racial slur in reference to Hamilton, prompting widespread criticism across the F1 paddock.
Verstappen has condemned the comments from Piquet, which he said were "very offensive", but he defended the character of the 69-year-old, who is the father of his partner Kelly.
"I've spent a bit of time with Nelson, and he's definitely not a racist, and he's actually a really nice and relaxed guy," he told reporters on Thursday.
"The statement he released, you can see the word in two ways, but I think it's still better not to use it.
"It's not only about that word, using offensive language to anyone, any colour, is not correct. That's to anyone in the world, not just to Lewis specifically.
"I’m looking forward to going back to Silverstone. There are so many amazing fans and it’s nice to know that we are just down the road from the Team at the factory in Milton Keynes."#BritishGP | @Max33Verstappen pic.twitter.com/ygoEUsfkzu— Oracle Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) June 30, 2022
"I think he realised it was probably not the correct word to use, and clearly it is not.
"It can be interpreted in two ways, and of course people pick up on the bad side and of course it gets really blown, I think, out of proportion.
"I know Nelson personally and people of course label him as a racist now, which I don't think he is, but I fully agree that you cannot use these words."
It has widely been reported F1 will now ban Piquet from the paddock, but Verstappen added he did not feel that would be the correct move.
"When you ban people, you are actually not helping the situation," he said. "You're not talking.
"You have to communicate. It's really important, because if you just ban, it's not helping what you're trying to enforce."