Dr Helmut Marko, Red Bull Consultant, Spa-Francorchamps, 2023

Marko apologises for “offensive remark” about Perez on Red Bull TV channel

Formula 1

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Red Bull motorsport consultant Dr Helmut Marko has apologised for an “offensive” comment he made about the team’s driver Sergio Perez earlier this week.

Marko drew criticism for comments made on Monday about Perez, one of Red Bull’s two drivers alongside twice-champion Max Verstappen.

Speaking to Red Bull’s Servus TV channel about Perez’s performance on Monday, Marko compared him to Red Bull’s two world champions, Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel, who are Dutch and German, respectively.

“We know that he [Perez] has problems in qualifying,” Marko said. “He fluctuates, he’s South American and his head just isn’t as fully focused as Max or Sebastian was.” Perez is Mexican by nationality, making him North American.

After his comments drew criticism online, Servus TV published a statement attributed to Marko apologising for his comment.

Perez finished second to Verstappen at Monza
“Concerning my remark about Sergio Perez, [on] Servus TV Sport and Talk, Monday September 4th: I would like to apologise for my offensive remark and want to make it absolutely clear that I do not believe that we can generalise about the people from any country, any race, any ethnicity,” Marko’s statement read.

“I was trying to make a point that Checo has fluctuated in his performance this year, but it was wrong to attribute this to his cultural heritage.”

Marko, a former F1 driver and winner of the 1971 Le Mans 24 Hours, has been heavily involved with Red Bull’s junior driver programme over the last two decades. The 80-year-old Austrian was a friend of Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz, who died in October last year.

Perez, who lies second in the championship, has been consistently beaten by Verstappen during 2023. Verstappen is currently on an all-time record winning streak of 10 consecutive grand prix victories, during which time Perez has scored fewer than half the points of his team mate and failed to reach Q3 on five occasions.

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Will Wood
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52 comments on “Marko apologises for “offensive remark” about Perez on Red Bull TV channel”

  1. And so the infamous ServusTV gets another ‘confirmation’ that the ‘mainstream media’ is enforcing ‘political correctness’.

    This isn’t a bug, this is what Mateschitz made ServusTV for.

    1. Is that so? If so it put’s Marko’s comments in an even worse context – he probably thought he could speak his mind freely and get away with it(being amongst ‘friends’) If I were Red Bull I would fire Marko straight away and very sincerely apologize to Perez. Otherwise I can’t see how they can expect Perez to still play the team game – plus this situation makes it mere impossible to replace Perez for his lack of performance or not playing the team game – since these comments from Marko, can be used to replacing Perez in a completely different light (not per se by Perez, but definitely by other media).

      1. ServusTV has a long history of inviting people from the political fringes on under the guise of an ‘open platform’. And those fringes are usually not of the communist variety. Unsurprisingly, ServusTV also provided a frequent platform to the conspiratorial covid-denier Sucharit Bhakdi over the past years. Who just so happened to be dumped by his publisher for antisemitic commentary.

        1. Well that speaks volumes and it makes it even worse for Marko and Red Bull. It makes it hard to believe that Marko made an ‘honest’ mistake and was not speaking his mind – probably fully aware of what he was saying wouldn’t be okay with the majority of the people outside of the Servus TV spectrum. It would be hypocritical of Red Bull to let Marko keep his position with this mediocre apology – while expelling Vips from the Red Bull program for very similar reasons. The implications of how Red Bull react will be major. Perez has been put in a very awkward situation – and it almost feels is if they are trying to bully him into giving up on his seat. I guess in a normal working situation you might even consider suing your employer and resign. At least Marko has made it very difficult to replace Perez before the end of his contract.

        2. ServusTV has a long history of inviting people from the political fringes on under the guise of an ‘open platform’. And those fringes are usually not of the communist variety.

          That caused me to do a quick set of searches about Servus TV.
          Ah, close associations with “fringes” that might think Genghis Khan was a peace-loving left-wing “woke” thinker.

  2. “I would like to categorically state that I did not intend to say what I really think out loud.”

    1. it was wrong to attribute this to his cultural heritage

      it’s quite a full apology I think. Lots of people find it easy to generalise about people, even if it’s “BMW drivers” or something. Sometimes it’s important to accept an apology as well as to do the right thing in the first place.

      And I mean, what can he say about Checo’s qualifying that isn’t offensive one way or another? Either it’s his genes or he doesn’t work hard enough, or both!

      1. Wow, you must be new to PR spins

        1. Helmut does PR now, you must be new to F1

          1. 😂

  3. I’d love to see how long RB, not RBR will continue letting this guy say the first thing that comes to mind with no filter to the first reporter that sticks a mic in his face.

    1. I missed this, but I really want Marko to say the first thing that comes into his head – for as long as he wants.

      Provided, it’s in public of course. LOL!!

      1. He said something like that Perez, being a South-American, is not as focused as Verstappen or Vettel.

    2. @arthurgd3 Red Bull GmbH will keep letting him say those things because that’s the whole point of Servus TV.

      Dietrich Mateschitz was a far-right extremist (Americans would call him alt-right) and has spent most of his life promoting these views with the help of his immense fortune. It’s in the company’s interest for someone as prominent as Marko to make these comments and thus embolden other far-right extremists.

  4. What did he say? I don’t see it quoted or another article mentioning it.

    1. It’s in the fourth paragraph of this story.

    2. @ryanoceros it was in the round up the other day. The worst of what he said is quoted in this article. The man is a disgrace. I’ve never liked his ruthless attitude to drivers but you can’t argue that it gets results (for the most part), however, this kind of openly racist comment is beyond the pale.

  5. Wow, how much more openly racist can you be?

    I just don’t understand their approach with number two drivers generally, does RB hope that by piling on the pressure publicly, it will improve performance? Has this ever worked for them?

    I just don’t understand how they can approach driver psychology in such a detrimental way and keep on doing it as their number 2 drivers disappoint one after the other. Add a pinch of racism, that will help…

    1. Is South American Juan Pablo Montoya racist too?

      “I learned a lot when I ran with Ralf (Schumacher), he was really quick. But European drivers are very weak mentally. You can get in their head really easily and I think that explains what you’re seeing today and what you’ve always seen in F1. “When things go their way, they’re really strong. When Lewis [Hamilton] is winning, he’s unstoppable but if something goes wrong, they spiral down, it’s huge. If the cars’ were closer together I think you would see different people winning.”

      1. @armchairexpert Hamilton does indeed spiral down. For like 5 minutes. Then regroups and fights back. It’s been a consistent pattern – in the past – when he suddenly realizes he has no chance of winning the race. And he’s also explained that emotional dip: he always thinks he can win a race – or has done most years. And that’s what he focuses on. So when that becomes impossible, he loses focus. Then he adjusts.
        Is that a problem? Depends whether you think winning the record number of poles, race wins and championships (joint) in Formula 1 is failing to deliver his full potential. Montoya with his 0 championships and 7 wins may think so. Others may think Montoya left Formula 1 because he couldn’t take the pressure and failure. (Just saying: not necessarily my opinion).
        Either way, Marko’s comment is nonsense (Perez’s poor performance is nothing to do with being Mexican), racist (for suggesting it is), ignorant and really poor geography (confusing Mexico with South America). As is Montoya’s reverse prejudice. Also weird that, of course, he picks Hamilton as his example.

      2. I think that if you are the type of person that feels it’s logical to make sweeping negative generalisations about other ethnicities/nationalities then yeah, you are racist. What’s your point though?

        1. Nationality and race are not the same. Sweeping generalizations about a nation’s citizens are mostly wrong but not necessarily racist. If, say, some Norwegian states: “All Danes are lazy” this is silly but really does not strike me as a racist comment. Same for religions etc.

      3. Montoya has played up this angle throughout his career, but it was he who stumbled in 2003 and left the championship down to Räikkönen and Schumacher. And he didn’t do so well when partnered with Räikkönen either.

      4. I don’t know, but Montoya at least is South American (unlike Perez, who’d probably never see S. America in his life if it wasn’t for Brazilian GP).

      5. What’s your point, Armchair ? Because Montoya is racist (or made a racist comment) then it’s fine to be ?

        I liked Montoya as a driver, but he never stroke me as an intellectual reference, if you see what I mean. Having said that, he’s just a driver, not a director representing a brand.

        Marko should be fired like vips and Larson were, at the minimum. This is so much worse that swearing using the wrong words on a gaming platform…

        1. Don’t know which is Armchair’s point but there is a point. People say all the time the wildest thing agains white people and (particularly if the targets are male, hetero, cis and not disabled) almost nobody finds it reprehensible.

          That’s my non-white 2c anyway

  6. I don’t know why so many people seem to mistake the continent Mexico is in geographically, which is clearly North America.

    1. I don’t know why so many people seem to mistake the continent Mexico is in geographically, which is clearly North America.

      Hey, if the more recent inhabitants of the dis-United States can delude themselves into thinking they control all the north continent, why should a few Canadians and Mexicans matter?

      I believe he’s said less than complimentary things about Hamilton, too, so at least he’s an equal opportunity insulter.

      1. Red Bull motorsport insultant

        1. Red Bull motorsport insultant

          Now, that might be the funniest comment this year.
          Thinking about it, then it might be fitting if the media started using that title for him.

    2. Where are you from, Jere? You can feel it if you think about the war in Ukraine. Even if it’s happening geographically in Europe most citizens of EU don’t feel like it’s happenning actually in EUROPE. It’s somewhere there, ouside. Same sentiment during balkan wars.

      So of course Mexico doesn’t belong to the english speaking God bless America West civilization placed in North America. It’s Latin America. You can forgive the old Austrian.

    3. The definitions are just that, though, and can sometimes be a bit confusing. Some conventions hold that there is just America. Others divide it into North and South. Other, more political takes, add a Central. There’s the linguistic angle too, wwith French, English, Spanish and Portuguese. Or Latin, which somehow never includes Quebec.

      In any case, Mexico is not in South America.

  7. Just wondering where Marko thinks Brazil (Senna) is located then. Or maybe he forgot that example. Easy mistake to make for someone deeply involved in Formula 1 all his life. Argentina (Fangio)? Maybe some region in Italy?

  8. And now that he apologized, let’s pretend it never happened, all good until he does it again.

    That’s probably how his mind works.

    1. This apology isn’t worth much, it’s just not genuine.

      It’s comical how they put out an apology that was clearly written by someone in PR, and only made out to be written by the person that put their foot in their mouth initially.

      1. Also they fired / expelled Juri Vips for very similar reasons from the Red Bull program – Red Bull can’t in their right mind let Marko continue with this half arsed apology.

  9. Marko is a clown. It’s time he stepped down from his position.

    Red Bull’s young driver programme is a disaster and add to that Marko’s bumbling and outspoken behavior, and what needs to happen is abundantly clear.

    Sergio is an infinitely more accomplished driver than Helmut Marko could ever dream of being.

  10. Let’s replace him with an arm-folding, face-pulling YouTuber. That’ll get Red Bull winning more races.

  11. Maybe Mexico, Central America, and South America should just push pause on Red Bull products.

  12. As if we never had great drivers from South America…

  13. And I thought Mexico was part of Central America? Guess not then.

    1. Central America is generally considered to be a part of the North American continent.

      1. Of course, when geology and geography meet, there is rarely full consensus.

  14. He might have a powerful position at Red Bull, but he’s proved time and time again that he has no class, & even less integrity.

  15. It’s time for this nasty little man to leave Red Bull, the team were quick to fire Vips so what makes Marko so special? Marko out please Seb Vettel in. Thanks!

  16. Marko has been an obvious racist and Servus TV a pretty abhorrent channel for disinformation, for rightwing extremists, for pretty bad stuff during covid as well If I am not mistaken.

    I would hope that the current Management of Red Bull would start getting away from that sort of stuff soon. Marko should defenitely be, since he’s not even had much success with their great junior program after Ricciardo, pushing through various drivers at the wrong time for them just to fill the gap. Verstappen doesn’t count, he was guided up the ladder by his father and was in talks with Mercedes, but Marko/RB were able to buy him away from their rivals with the promise of a STR drive when Mercedes could only offer a reserve driver role and the promise of maybe something in the future.

    1. If he had say something against Arab, Indians, Chinese, or African countries, their would be a huge outcry. But for some reason it is striking that this type of comments on (or against) Latin Americans never elicit the same level of outrage. I see it often in the US.

  17. tom (@tomassogattitom)
    10th September 2023, 16:10

    Ja ja- it iss time to muzzle Herr Marko.

  18. Marko can’t change the way he is.
    He’s an Australian.

  19. What’s wrong with insults anyway. One should never apologise, say what you mean..mean what you say.

  20. I mean, it’s not even factually accurate. Mexico is a country in North America, not South America.

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