Red Bull Racing advisor Helmut Marko has been under fire for days over a biased report against Sergio Perez. The Austrian made a connection between Perez’s appearance and his disappointing performance on the track. After criticizing that statement Marko has now apologized for what were deemed highly offensive words.
Earlier this week, Marco attended an Austrian show Hello TV. In the broadcast he analyzed the performance of the Red Bull drivers. Things went wrong when the conversation reached Sergio Perez. According to Marco, Perez made less anyway because of his Mexican ancestry. “As we all know, Perez is having problems qualifying. Don’t forget he’s from South America, so he doesn’t get the same attention as Max Verstappen or Sebastian Vettel.
This is a remarkable statement by Marco for several reasons. Mexico is not in South America, but not least because it is in North America. Formula 1 has many famous drivers from South America including Juan Manuel Fangio and Ayrton Senna. In total, drivers from the continent have won 147 races and 13 championships in Formula 1.
Marco was certainly not grateful for this statement. Red Bull and Perez have remained silent, but many fans online are making it clear that Marco has gone a step further. There has been a lot of criticism of the Austrian on various sites, with the usual explanation that accusing someone of inferior performance because of their appearance is too close to the definition of racism. Many compared him to Red Bull junior driver Juri Whipps, who was accidentally kicked out of the Red Bull Junior Academy for using a racist slur.
Marco himself responded with surprise to the commotion. OE24 Asked to respond to the criticism, Marco replied: “I don’t have it [als iets racistisch] Meaning. I was just saying that a Mexican has a different mindset than a German or a Dutch person. But who knows, maybe Czecho can keep it under control.
It’s not the first time Marco Perez’s looks have been used as an explanation for a driver’s performance. After Perez won the Azerbaijan Grand Prix earlier this year, Marco said: “Before he joined us, Perez was a Mexican driver who enjoyed life. Now he is also doing the necessary work. In 2022, Marco mistakenly referred to South America as Perez’s home continent.” As a South American he obviously has a lot of ups and downs.” Marco again referred to his driver’s background in Saudi Arabia, when a missile attack near the circuit caused some uncertainty in the paddock. “Max is not scared, but Perez is very scared. It wasn’t too different from the way he was used to living in Mexico City.
An extensive apology
Marco’s initial response was again not well received, as his defense often repeated what was seen as problematic. The Mexican Grand Prix organization reacted by condemning the Austrian’s words. “We would like to express our support to Mexican driver Sergio Perez,” the race website said. “Inappropriate reactions have no place in any environment, and therefore not in sports. It is important that we take steps to prevent this type of behavior and that people apologize where necessary. We encourage everyone to treat each other with more respect and engage in healthy competition on and off the track.
After seeing that his first trick wasn’t taken well, Marco went back to ServeTV on Friday. He apologized extensively to Perez and fans in a message posted on the channel’s website. “Regarding my comment about Sergio Perez last Monday, I want to apologize for my hurtful words,” Marco said. “I want to be clear that I absolutely do not believe we can generalize about people of any country, race or ethnicity. I tried to make a point about Sego’s mixed results this year. I was wrong to connect it to his cultural origins.
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