FIA warns Helmut Marko over Perez comments
By Mat Coch
Saturday 16th September, 2023 - 2:06am
Red Bull motorsport advisor has received an official warning from the FIA following disparaging comments he made about Sergio Perez.
Marko twice suggested Perez’s fluctuating form is a result of his nationality during television interviews.
He’s since apologised, both publicly and privately, though the FIA has still taken exception to his remarks.
The 80-year-old has now “received a written warning and been reminded of his responsibilities as a public figure in motor sport in line with the FIA Code of Ethics,” a statement from the sport’s governing body confirmed.
“Those comments weren’t right,” admitted Red Bull team boss, Christian Horner on Sky Sports.
“Helmut quickly recognised that and apologised for that both publicly and directly to Sergio. He spoke to Sergio directly about it.
“You are always learning in life even at 80 years of age. Inevitably lessons have been learned.
“Checo is a massively popular member and 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, very responsibly.
“The fan following that the team has, Checo has and F1 has, we are very conscious of it. This is his 250th race and we want to focus on that.”
Speaking to the media, including Speedcafe, in Singapore on Thursday, Perez stated that he had not taken Marko’s comments personally.
“Obviously those comments, when you read them in isolation, can be very disrespectful,” he said of the reaction online from his fans.
“But, like I say, knowing Helmut, having that personal relationship, for me, helped me a lot to understand him.
“And like I say, he gave me a personal apology.
“It’s like everything, you know. When you have a personal relationship, it’s a lot more important, the personal feeling than the public feeling.
“I know he doesn’t mean it that way,” he added when asked if he was offended by the remarks.
“I didn’t get offended at all, personally.
“Let’s say those comments were on a different perspective or so on, I would have taken them differently.
“But to me, it’s just how things are, and I didn’t [take] them personally.”
Red Bull had remained silent on the matter, a position Horner defended when asked about its lack of response.
“He’s not an employee of Red Bull Racing,” he argued.
“So, in terms of why didn’t we put out a statement, he’s part of the Red Bull wider group, and the group obviously issued that apology through the ServusTV channel.
“Helmut is technically an employee directly of, or a consultant to the group, so it’s not really a question for me to answer,” he added.
“We’ve obviously spoken about it. I know he regrets what he said, he’s apologised.
“Even at 80 years of age, you can, it’s still not too late to learn.”