The FIA has sent a written warning to Helmut Marko for his comments as Christian Horner, Lewis Hamilton and F1 team bosses chime in.
The comments made by Red Bull advisor Marko on Sergio Perez, where he compared the Mexican’s heritage/background as one of the reasons for not being able to do what the likes of European racers like Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel can do, took social media by storm.
He referred him as a South American racer when he is from North America, but the offence was more on the grounds of bringing in ethnicity into the picture. There was quick response from ServusTV where it was aired where Marko’s apology was posted.
Ahead of Singapore GP weekend, Perez accepted Marko’s apology and played down any chance of rift. He said he wasn’t offended by the comments but he can’t control anyone else. The FIA, meanwhile, has officially warned the Austrian.
“We can confirm that Helmut Marko has received a written warning and been reminded of his responsibilities as a public figure in motor sport in line with the FIA Code of Ethics,” said the FIA in a short statement on the matter.
There were host of opinions on the matter especially from Mercedes’ Hamilton, who felt it was wrong on Marko’s behalf and wanted to see how Red Bull takes up the case especially after how they dealt with their junior Juri Vips recently.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner explained why Red Bull Racing did not put out a statement as he noted that Marko is part of Red Bull Group and they took action via ServusTV’s statement, which meant the F1 team didn’t have to say anything.
He also talked about the internal apology from Marko and acceptance of Perez. But his rival F1 bosses weren’t too pleased by the comments certainly. The likes of Toto Wolff, Zak Brown, Guenther Steiner and Alessandro Alunni Bravi had a stern response.
Christian Horner: “Those comments weren’t right. Helmut quickly recognised that and apologised for that both publicly and directly to Sergio. He spoke to Sergio directly about it. You are always learning in life even at 80 years of age. Inevitably lessons have been learned. Checo is a massively popular member and important member of our team. I pushed very hard to sign him for the 2021 season. We have a huge following around the world and we take that very seriously, very responsibly.
“The fan following that the team has, Checo has and F1 has, we are very conscious of it. This is his 250th race and we want to focus on that. From Helmut’s perspective, he has apologised. He’s not an employee of Red Bull Racing, so in terms of why didn’t we put out a statement, he’s part of the Red Bull Group and the Group issued an apology through the Servus TV channel.”
Lewis Hamilton: “I think this is not something that you just apologise for and it is all okay. I think there needs to be more done. I think teams, when they’ve had individuals, particularly drivers, make comments but also some individuals in the back room, they usually are removed or at least they put out a quote and say they don’t support that sort of thing. So it is interesting they haven’t done so for this one. But that’s not my team. That’s not how we move as a team. And I think it just shows how important is that we continue to do the work, the work that I’m trying to do with my team, and with the sport.
“We still have a lot of work to do moving forwards to make sure that this is a more inclusive environment. I mean, it’s completely unacceptable what he said. And while we say there is no room for any type of discrimination within the sport, which there should be no room for, to have leaders and people in his position, making comments like this is not good for us moving forwards. So I think it just highlights firstly, the work that still needs to be done. There are a lot of people in the background that really are trying to combat these sorts of things. But it’s hard to manoeuvre when you have people that are at the top. If there are people in the top that have those sorts of mindsets, that can just stop us from progressing.”
Zak Brown: “I think you have to be very careful what you say to anybody. Yeah, probably – not probably – it was not a great comment. We can understand why people were offended by it. I didn’t hear it myself, I’ve only read it but yeah, you have to be very respectful of everyone and not make comments that can be viewed inappropriately.”
Guenther Steiner: “Yeah, I agree with Zak. Stereotyping, these days, doesn’t work anymore. We need to be careful what you say. Sometimes it’s very difficult to do, because what you say you don’t mean it and then you shouldn’t say it, obviously, if you’re aware of it. I didn’t hear it as well because I could understand it in German how it was said, so I just read it and in translation maybe it sounds different. But I think it is what it is and I think they’re dealing with it and I was surprised to hear that Mexico was in South America.”
Toto Wolff: “Yeah, we’re laughing about South America but it’s a topic that’s not at all funny and it’s not only what has been said but it’s the mindset that you can even come up with these things and that hasn’t got any place in Formula 1, that’s not something that should have been said in the past, and certainly not now or in the future. We all know that we need more diversity in Formula 1, more inclusion, and the team’s do their best to create an environment where this is possible. And obviously statements like this don’t shine the light on Formula 1 that Formula 1 deserves for all of their activities.”
Alessandro Alunni Bravi: “Yeah, I fully agree. And for me, it’s very important that as a Formula 1, as a community, we need to be respectful. We started a path all together going towards diversity, inclusion and this must be factual. We don’t need just to have a strategy in place, we need to have behaviours that show to people how we value this in Formula 1 and we need to be careful how to comment on things. I’m Italian, so I know that sometimes we have been facing the same comments as Italians. I think that everyone must be respected. We are all working hard, we are all trying to prove that we can do a good job here in Formula 1 at any level, from drivers to people. We just need to show really inclusion and to show that Formula 1 is an open community where everybody can find his place, or her place.”
Here’s Sergio Perez’s response
Here’s Christian Horner on Lewis Hamilton/Max Verstappen new bicker
Here’s Toto Wolff on ‘perfection’ records referring to Red Bull
Here’s Helmut Marko and Sergio Perez saga