Sergio Perez has publicly expressed his belief that he receives disproportionate scrutiny for his on-track incidents compared to other Formula 1 drivers, citing his nationality as a contributing factor.
He specifically points to the comparatively muted reaction to George Russell’s crash at the Singapore Grand Prix as evidence.
Challenging season for Checo
This year has been a challenging one for Perez at Red Bull Racing. Despite starting the season with two wins in the first four races, a series of setbacks, starting with a qualifying crash in Monaco, has seen him fall further behind teammate Max Verstappen, who currently sits on 177 points.
Most recently, Perez suffered another setback at Suzuka, where he collided with Kevin Magnussen and was forced to retire.
Mexican heritage to blame
However, Perez argues that the scrutiny he faces for such incidents is heightened by his Mexican nationality.
“The way my misfortunes are reported in the media suggests a nationality bias,” said Perez, as quoted by Spanish publication Marca.
He cites George Russell’s recent crash in Singapore, where Russell fell from a podium position on the final lap, as a point of comparison.
“Nobody is talking about Russell’s crash. But if something similar happened to me at Red Bull, there would be a media frenzy,” he said.
More obstacles for non-European drivers
Perez has echoed these sentiments in the past, claiming that non-European drivers often face more obstacles in their racing careers.
To make matters worse, Red Bull Racing advisor Helmut Marko recently referred to Perez’s nationality when discussing his performance, suggesting that he lacked the focus of other drivers such as Verstappen or Sebastian Vettel because he is South American.
Marko’s numerous comments about Perez’s heritage
Earlier this year, Dr. Helmut Marko found himself at the center of controversy 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 those 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’.
Further cases of Marko commenting on Perez
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.
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.
Marko has since apologised for his comments, saying in a statement that generalisations based on nationality are inappropriate. The FIA also issued Marko with a written warning in response to his comments.
“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.
Perez publically ‘accepts Marko’s apology’
Perez revealed that he had a private conversation with Marko and accepted his apology.
“Knowing Helmut personally helps. I accepted his apology because I understand that he didn’t mean it the way it sounded,” said Perez, stressing that he is ready to move on from the incident.
Nevertheless, Perez’s comments about nationality bias have highlighted a wider issue within the sport, raising questions about how drivers from different backgrounds are treated and discussed in Formula One. Certainly, something Lewis Hamilton loves to highlight.
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In the high-speed world of Formula One, where tenths of a second can mean the difference between triumph and disappointment, Sergio Perez’s performance for Red Bull Racing in 2023 has left many analysts and fans perplexed.
A season that began with so much promise for the Mexican driver has gradually devolved into a series of underwhelming performances, making his position…READ MORE ON THIS STORY