Helmut Marko was reprimanded by the FIA for his comments about Sergio Perez. The FIA spokesman has confirmed that Red Bull motorsport advisor Dr Helmut Marko has been officially warned for comments he made on Austrian television about Sergio Perez, which some have described as xenophobic.
After the Italian Grand Prix, Helmut Marko made comments about Red Bull driver Sergio Perez in which the 80-year-old Austrian attributed the Mexican’s lack of performance to his ethnicity.
Marko’s past comments on Perez
Earlier this year, Dr. Helmut Marko found himself at the center of controversy yet again due to his comments about Sergio Perez’s performance compared to Max Verstappen. Marko’s remarks, which were perceived by some as insensitive, focused on Perez’s inconsistency and cited his Mexican heritage as a contributing factor.
Despite TJ13 (this very website) reporting the matter back in April, it didn’t seem to be picked up quite like the most recent comments by the Austrian senior Red Bull figure.
Marko said quite unequivocally in Germany’s “Sport Bild” that: “viewed over the whole season with 23 races, Max is the more consistent driver. Checo has his highlights, but unfortunately he also has some bad weekends…” and that “if he wants to be a serious title contender, he has to become more consistent,”
“That’s just Mexican temperament…”
For many, in particular of Mexican heritage, could find Marko’s comments somewhat of a ‘slur’. Dismissive of Perez’s attempts to be equal of Max, by casually claiming Perez can’t match his team mate due to his ‘Mexican temperament’.
Most recent comments on Perez
In a recent Servus TV interview, Marko began by praising Sergio Perez, who finished the Italian Grand Prix in second place behind Max Verstappen, before pointing out the Mexican’s weakness this season compared to his team-mate.
“We know that he [Perez] has problems in qualifying. He has fluctuations in his form, he’s South American and so he’s not as focused in his head as Max [Verstappen] or Sebastian [Vettel],” said Marko.
Helmut Marko’s most recent comments sparked anger on social networking sites this time, and the man himself was forced to react very quickly by publicly apologising.
“I didn’t mean it at all. I wanted to say that a Mexican has a different mentality to a German or a Dutch person,” Marko explained to OE24.
Marko apologises to Perez, FIA issues official reprimand
Interviewed on Thursday in Singapore, where Formula 1 is contesting its fifteenth round of the season, Sergio Perez revealed to the media that Helmut Marko had apologised to him and that for him the matter was closed.
But on Friday, the FIA – which fights against all forms of discrimination throughout the year in its various championships – confirmed that it had issued a warning to Helmut Marko in accordance with the FIA Code of Ethics.
“We can confirm that Helmut Marko has been issued with a written warning and reminded of his responsibilities as a public figure in motor sport in accordance with the FIA Code of Ethics,” a spokesperson for the governing body confirmed to Sky Sports.
Toto Wolff says Helmut Marko's comments, where he blamed Sergio Perez's inconsistent form this season on his ethnicity, are "so embarrassing for Formula 1". pic.twitter.com/h1ZVb1TQeZ
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) September 15, 2023
Red Bull distances itself from the matter
Questioned prior to the FIA’s announcement, Red Bull boss Christian Horner explained his team’s position on the whole affair, with the British driver insisting that Helmut Marko is not directly linked to the Red Bull team.
“Those comments were not correct, Helmut quickly recognised that and apologised publicly and directly to Sergio,” Horner told Sky Sports.
“He spoke to Sergio about it. You’re always learning in life, even at 80. Inevitably, lessons have been learned. Checo [Perez] is an extremely popular and important member of our team. I pushed very hard to recruit him in 2021.”
“We have a huge following around the world, and we take that very seriously, very responsibly. The fans that follow the team, Checo and F1, we are very aware of that. This is his 250th race [in Singapore] and we want to focus on that.”
“From Helmut’s point of view, he has apologised, he is not a Red Bull Racing employee, that’s why we haven’t issued a statement, he is part of the Red Bull group and the group has apologised via the Servus TV channel.”