Red Bull’s Formula 1 team has broken its silence over Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko’s comments that conflated Sergio Perez’s nationality with his erratic qualifying form.
Marko ended up releasing a public apology for remarks he made on the Red Bull-owned Servus TV channel where he put Perez’s perceived-by-Marko lack of focus down to Mexican driver Perez being “South American”.
Marko apologised for his “offensive remark” and said he wanted to “make it absolutely clear that I do not believe that we can generalise about the people from any country, any race, any ethnicity”.
Perez confirmed ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix weekend that he had a private conversation with Marko in addition to Marko’s public apology and considered the matter resolved.
Red Bull’s F1 team hadn’t publicly addressed Marko’s comments ahead of the Singapore GP weekend though as it says Marko is a consultant to the wider Red Bull GmbH parent company rather than specifically to the F1 team.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner did address the matter on Friday in Singapore however when asked by Sky Sports F1 about Marko’s comments.
“Firstly those comments weren’t right and Helmut quickly realised that and apologised for that, both publicly and directly to Sergio,” Horner said.
“He spoke directly to Sergio about it and you’re always learning in life, even at 80 years of age. Inevitably lessons have been learnt.
“Checo is a massively popular member of our team, he’s an 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 and responsibly.
“The fan following, not just that Checo has but the team has and Formula 1 has, we’re very conscious of. This is his 250th race, we want to focus on that.
“From Helmut’s perspective, he’s 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 wider Red Bull group and the group issued that apology through the ServusTV channel.”
When asked if there would be a further internal investigation or whether it would be “business as usual” Horner replied “it’s not really a question for me to answer” as Marko is not a direct employee of Red Bull’s F1 team.
He effectively exists independently of the Red Bull Racing team structure, even though he is a director of the Red Bull Racing company registered in the UK.
“We’ve obviously spoken about it, I know he regrets what he’s said,” Horner added.
“He’s apologised and even at 80 years of age, it’s still not too late to learn.”
On Thursday Lewis Hamilton said “there needs to be more done” than just the apology and he called it “interesting” that Red Bull’s F1 team hadn’t addressed Marko’s comments in any way at that point.
His team boss Toto Wolff said such comments had no place in Formula 1.
“It’s not only what has been said, but it’s the mindset – that you can even come up with these things,” Wolff said on Friday in Singapore.
“And that hasn’t got any place in Formula 1. That’s not something that should have been said in the past, certainly not now, and in the future. We all know that we need more diversity in Formula 1, more inclusion – and the teams do their best to create an environment where this is possible.
“Obviously statements like this don’t shine the light on Formula 1 that Formula 1 deserves.”
Prior to the FIA issuing Marko a written warning, in line with its code of ethics, there were suggestions that the governing body or F1 should take action of their own.
Horner said Red Bull Racing had “communicated with the FIA and FOM throughout the last week and as you can imagine that [any sanctions] is very much a matter for them, not for the team”.