F1 commentator defends Helmut Marko: Take Sergio Perez comments ‘with a smile’

Jamie Woodhouse
Helmut Marko and Sergio Perez

Helmut Marko has often criticised Sergio Perez in 2023.

ESPN commentator Fernando Tornello believes too much has been made of the recent controversy regarding Helmut Marko’s comments on Sergio Perez.

Red Bull’s advisor Marko has never been someone known to keep his words soft or sweet, as Perez had found out already at times during what has been a challenging F1 2023 campaign, though it was ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix where Marko truly caused a stir.

Marko would receive a written warning and reminder of his responsibilities from the FIA following comments linking Perez’s inconsistent performances against Max Verstappen to his ethnicity.

Helmut Marko tries to motivate, not insult, Sergio Perez

Marko did issue an apology both publicly and in private to Perez for the remarks, which Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton branded “totally unacceptable”, though Tornello believes the situation was rather blown out of proportion.

“You’re making too much trouble over what he says,” Tornello told Esto.

“He’s simply a provocateur. What he really wants to do is to motivate the drivers, but he is very tough.

“He does it to poke and prod the drivers so they get more out of the car and with grit and effort to improve. I think this is why he said that about Checo.”

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Tornello does not believe that Perez specifically has a target on his back for Marko, though explained that there is a very important deterrent for ever dishing out the tough love to Verstappen.

Of course, Verstappen rarely needs any extra motivation as he marches towards his third World Championship in a further season of dominance, though there have been moments of tension, especially between Verstappen and race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase over team radio, when Verstappen has gone against team instructions.

But, Tornello says Marko cannot risk being critical of Verstappen and must treat him as the “spoiled child”, otherwise he could walk out of the team.

“It is not with Checo, the issue is really with everyone,” Tornello continued.

“He does not speak ill of Verstappen because Verstappen does not give him reasons and he must have him as a spoiled child, because if Verstappen leaves the team, it starts to get complicated because he goes to a rival team on top, so they have to keep him there.

“Take it with a smile on your face.”

While Perez had an absolute shocker last time out in Japan, Verstappen’s dominant return to winning ways was enough to secure the F1 2023 Constructors’ title for Red Bull.

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