Team principals question Helmut Marko’s mindset over naive comments

Helmut Marko suggested Sergio Perez's Latino ethnicity is why he 'lacks focus' compared to Max Verstappen


Helmut Marko has been heavily criticised following xenophobic comments made about Sergio Perez, with team principals questioning his mindset and place in Formula 1.

The Red Bull adviser claimed that Sergio Perez lacked the same degree of focus as Max Verstappen, which he attributed to Perez being from South America.

Perez, who is actually North American, said that Marko has apologised to him he has accepted that apology after the latest attack on his Latino ethnicity.

The team bosses of Haas, Mercedes and McLaren all agreed the comments were in bad taste, with Zak Brown (McLaren CEO) and Guenther Steiner (Haas team principal) saying that Marko needed to be wiser.

“I think you have to be very careful what you say to anybody,” Brown said to the media. “It was not a great comment.

“You have to be very respectful of of everyone. And don’t make comments that can be viewed inappropriately.”

Steiner, who is no stranger to harsh comments himself, echoed Brown pointing out that stereotyping isn’t acceptable in the current day.

“I agree with Zak,” said the Haas team principal. “Stereotyping these days doesn’t work anymore. We we need to be careful with what you say.

“Sometimes it’s very difficult to do because what you say you don’t mean it and then you shouldn’t say it, obviously, if you’re aware of it. I was surprised to hear that Mexico is in South America.”

Helmut Marko speaks to Sergio Perez | Mark Thompson / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Wolff and Stella slam Marko, call on F1 to do more

Wolff and Mercedes are known for their activism in the sport, promoting diversity and taking symbolic actions such as deploying black liveries on the cars in support of anti-racism movements.

Regarding Marko‘s comments, Wolff got serious and questioned the mindset of the 80-year-old.

“We’re laughing about the South America part but it’s a topic that’s not at all funny,” Wolff said. “It’s not only what what has been said, but it’s the mindset that you can even come up with these with these things.

“That hasn’t gone any place in F1. That’s not something that should have said it should have been said in the past, and certainly not now in the future.

“We all we all know that we need more diversity in F1, more inclusion, and the teams do their best to create an environment where this is possible.

“Statements like this don’t shine the light on Formula 1 that F1 deserves for all of the activities.”

Andrea Stella, the McLaren team principal, backed up what Wolff said and noted that he has experienced Italian stereotypes during his 23 years in the sport.

Stella called for the racing series to be an open-community for all and said plans to combat discriminatory mentalities alone aren’t enough.

“For me it’s very important that F1, as a community, we need to be respectful,” said Stella. “We started a path all together going to towards diversity inclusion, and this must be factual.

“We don’t need just to have a strategy in place, we need to have behaviours that show to people how we value those in F1.

“We need to be careful how to comment on things. I’m Italian so I know that sometimes we have been facing the same comments as Italians. I think that everyone must be respected.

“We just need to show really inclusion. And to show that Formula 1 is an open community where everybody can find his or her place.”

Brandon Sutton
Brandon Sutton
Brandon is an alumni of an NCTJ and BJTC Liverpool John Moores University course, and has been with for over a year now. He enjoys covering all forms of motorsport but particularly focuses on Formula 1, and Brandon loves to debate various topics of the sport and other interests, especially if that topic doesn't have an open/shut answer such as the GOAT debate.
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