Helmut Marko apologises amidst xenophobia scandal

Helmut Marko has apologised for comments he made regarding Sergio Perez

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Red Bull adviser Helmut Marko has apologised following comments he made towards Sergio Perez that were considered to be xenophobic towards Latinos.

The comments were made whilst Marko was interviewed by Servus TV, concerning why Perez has struggled to match the pace of Max Verstappen.

Marko claimed that lacked the mental focus of his European teammate, which he attributed to a false view of Perez hailing from South America.

The comments are factually incorrect on both counts as the Mexican is actually from North America, and there is no evidence suggesting a focus deficit between residents of the continents.

Following the interview going viral on social media, the 80-year-old Austrian issued an apology via Servus TV for the inappropriate remarks.

“I would like to apologise for my offensive remark,” Marko said in a statement. “And I 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.

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

At the time of writing Red Bull or Perez had not yet made any comment.

Sergio Perez looks on in the drivers press conference for the 2023 Italian GP | Bryn Lennon/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Marko’s prior Mexican stereotypes

This is not the first time that Marko has made inappropriate comments towards Perez that were rooted in xenophobia and stereotypes.

In 2022, the senior Red Bull figure took to Mexican stereotypes to suggest why Perez was struggling for form, and was once again wrong regarding the continent of origin.

“As a South American, he generally has a lot of ups and downs,” Marko told Sky Germany in 2022.

“Max is not afraid, and Perez is very scared, although it isn’t different from how he lives in Mexico City.”

Mexico City Grand Prix slams Marko

Organisers of the Mexico City Grand Prix backed Perez after Marko’s comments, with the 2023 event taking place on October 27-29.

“We at the Mexico City GP we express our support for the Mexican driver, Sergio “Checo” Perez,” read the statement.

“Inappropriate comments have no place in any area, including sports. It is important that measures are taken to prevent this and that apologies are made when necessary.

“We invite everyone to build a more respectful and united community in Formula 1, promoting healthy competition both on and off the track.”

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