Christian Horner has addressed the elephant in the room involving Red Bull, with the team failing to comment publicly on Helmut Marko’s controversial remarks about Sergio Perez.
Red Bull’s Helmut Marko has dominated headlines since the Italian Grand Prix, following comments he made regarding Sergio Perez’s nationality playing a role in his failure to challenge Max Verstappen on a consistent basis.
Marko issued a public apology for the comments via Red Bull-owned ServusTV, the same channel on which he made the initial comments, while Perez has publicly accepted the apology made publicly and in private conversations with Marko as the Singapore GP weekend began.
Christian Horner explains why Red Bull didn’t issue statement on Helmut Marko
Red Bull’s F1 team was quick to issue a statement condemning the racial slur used by junior driver Juri Vips in 2022, prior to terminating their programme with the young Estonian driver.
But a similar response to Marko’s comments, while not as egregious as Vips’, was not forthcoming from Red Bull, and team boss Christian Horner appeared to be washing his hands of the situation as he spoke about the incident on Sky F1 on Friday.
“Firstly, those comments weren’t right,” he said.
“I think Helmut quickly recognised that and apologised for that, both publicly and directly to Sergio. He spoke directly to Sergio about it and I think you’re always learning in life – even at 80 years of age.
“Inevitably, lessons have been learned. Checo [Perez] is a massively popular member of our team, an 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, very seriously, very responsibly.
“The fan following, not just that Checo has but the team has and F1 has, we’re very conscious of. This is his 250th race, we want to focus on that.
“Obviously, from Helmut’s perspective, he’s apologised.”
Christian Horner hints at FOM and FIA interest in Helmut Marko
But Horner hinted that Marko’s position is above that of anyone within the F1 team, even himself, and that, as a result, he is not in a position to sanction Marko internally.
“He’s not an employee of Red Bull Racing. 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,” he said.
“Helmut is technically an employee directly of, or a consultant to the group. So it’s not really a question for me to answer. 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.”
Asked whether F1, through Formula One Management, or the FIA, might choose to have a word with Marko or perhaps punish the Austrian for his comments, Horner revealed there has been conversations with the governing body and the sport’s owners – presumably with the authorities reaching out to Red Bull initially.
“There’s a code of conduct, a code of ethics, and a sporting code and so that already exists,” he said.
“We’ve communicated with FIA and FOM throughout the last week, as you can imagine, and that is very much a matter for them, obviously, not for the team.”