Lewis Hamilton says people “usually are removed” for comments similar to Helmut Marko’s remarks on Sergio Perez, “so it is interesting” that Red Bull “haven’t done so for this one”.
After the Italian Grand Prix, Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko made some controversial comments regarding Sergio Perez’s form.
“We know that he has problems in qualifying, he has fluctuations in form,” the Austrian said.
“He is South American and he is just not as completely focused in his head as Max [Verstappen] is or as Sebastian [Vettel],” he concluded.
Unsurprisingly, this caused quite a stir, as Marko used Perez’s ethnicity to explain why he’s not performing as well as he should.
While trying to clarify these comments, Marko made it even worse.
“It wasn’t meant that way,” he told OE24.
“I meant that a Mexican has a different mentality than a German or a Dutchman. But who knows, maybe it’s controlled.”
Ultimately, the Austrian issued a formal apology to Perez.
“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,” he stated in his written apology.
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“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 concluded.
Ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton was asked to comment on Marko’s original remarks.
“It’s completely unacceptable what he said,” Lewis told Sky Sports F1.
“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.”
Hamilton added that a mere apology is not enough in this case.
“I don’t know what was said beyond, that’s something to ask Checo [Perez], 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,” the Briton concluded.
Meanwhile, Perez said that Marko has apologized to him personally in private, and he accepts the apology.
“I got an apology from him, a direct apology, which to me was the most important one,” the Mexican 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,” Perez concluded.