Hamilton: Marko remarks ‘unacceptable’ | Perez: He apologised to me

Daily News
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Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton says Helmut Marko’s comments “just highlights, firstly, the work that still needs to be done”; Sergio Perez says Red Bull’s motorsport advisor personally apologised to him

Last Updated: 14/09/23 3:15pm

Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen reflect on comments made by Red Bull chief Helmut Marko about Perez's ethnicity.

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Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen reflect on comments made by Red Bull chief Helmut Marko about Perez’s ethnicity.

Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen reflect on comments made by Red Bull chief Helmut Marko about Perez’s ethnicity.

Lewis Hamilton has expressed his disappointment at Helmut Marko’s “completely unacceptable” comments about Sergio Perez and said that the remarks underline why ongoing work to improve inclusivity in the sport is so important.

Marko, Red Bull’s motorsport advisor, issued an apology last Friday following comments in which he blamed Perez’s inconsistent form at F1’s dominant team this season on his ethnicity.

Asked about Marko’s comments ahead of the Singapore GP on Thursday, Hamilton told Sky Sports F1: “It’s completely unacceptable what he said.

“Whilst we say there is no room for any type of discrimination within this sport which there should be – no room for it – to have leaders and people in his position making comments like this is not good for us moving forwards.

“I think it just highlights, firstly, the work that still needs to be done. There are a lot of people in the background that really are trying to combat these sorts of things but it’s hard to manoeuvre if there are people in the top that have those sort of mindsets, that just stop us from progressing. Not surprised, to be honest.”

Sergio Perez and Helmut Marko in discussion at the British GP in July

Sergio Perez and Helmut Marko in discussion at the British GP in July

Marko, who it is understood is employed by the wider Red Bull brand rather than the F1 racing team itself, issued his apology via Red Bull-owned Austrian channel ServusTV Sport.

Marko said: “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.

“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.”

Asked about the wider official response to the matter, Hamilton replied: “I don’t know what was said beyond, that’s something to ask Checo, but I think this is not something that you just apologise [for] and it’s all ok. I think there needs to be more done.

“Teams, when they’ve had individuals, particularly drivers, make comments but [also] some individuals in the background – they usually are removed or at least they put out a quote and say they don’t support that sort of thing. So it is interesting that they haven’t done so for this one, but it’s not my team and it’s not how we move as a team.

“It just shows how important it is that we continue to do the work. The work that I’m trying to do with my team and with the sport. We still have a lot of work to do moving forward to make sure that this is a more inclusive environment.”

Red Bull Racing have told Sky Sports News they do not condone Marko’s comments and that as a team they are emphatic that there is no place for racism or xenophobia in racing or society as a whole.

Perez says Marko apologised to him | Comments ‘not meant that way’

Speaking about the matter for the first time on Thursday, Perez said he had received a direct apology from Marko. He also insisted there were “no issues” about continuing to work with the 80-year-old Austrian.

“I got an apology from him, a direct apology, which to me was the most important one,” he said.

“I know him, and I know that he doesn’t mean it that way as well. That to me is what matters. When you have a personal relationship with someone, it’s a feeling that you’ve got to have and to me that’s the most important one.

“The most important [thing] is that we focus on this weekend and the performance on track. Obviously the personal apology to me was more important than anything else.”

Max Verstappen admits Red Bull chief Helmut Marko made a mistake for his controversial comments on Sergio Perez's ethnicity and that he's apologised for the language he used.

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Max Verstappen admits Red Bull chief Helmut Marko made a mistake for his controversial comments on Sergio Perez’s ethnicity and that he’s apologised for the language he used.

Max Verstappen admits Red Bull chief Helmut Marko made a mistake for his controversial comments on Sergio Perez’s ethnicity and that he’s apologised for the language he used.

World champion Max Verstappen, Perez’s team-mate, was also asked about the matter in his Sky interview in Singapore.

“I don’t think I’m the right person to educate Helmut,” said Verstappen.

“I think he quickly realised what he said and he apologised for it.

“And for me then it’s done. When people realise they made a mistake and they correct it, for me you move forwards and that is also exactly what we do as a team.”

Sky Sports F1’s live Singapore GP schedule

Friday September 15
10am: Singapore GP Practice One (session starts at 10.30am)
1.45pm: Singapore GP Practice Two (session starts at 2pm)
3.30pm: The F1 Show

Saturday September 16
10.15am: Singapore GP Practice Three (session starts at 10.30am)
1pm: Singapore GP Qualifying build-up
2pm: Singapore GP Qualifying
3.45pm: Ted’s Qualifying Notebook

Sunday September 17
11.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday: Singapore GP build-up
1pm: THE SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX
3pm: Chequered Flag: Singapore GP reaction
4pm: Ted’s Notebook

Next up for the F1 circus are the stunning streets of Singapore under the lights. All sessions from the Singapore GP will be live on Sky Sports F1 from September 15-17. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW. Cancel anytime

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