Helmut Marko is under pressure after using a xenophobic slur against Red Bull’s own driver Sergio Perez.
The Red Bull senior advisor has not been against criticising his own driver in the press and while Christian Horner has done everything he can to assure Perez he has a place in the team next season, Marko has undone that all with a few choice words.
But he overstepped the line this week when he used a xenophobic slur against Perez, suggesting his performance was suffering because he is “South American.”
Helmut Marko makes incorrect Sergio Perez statement
Speaking to the Red Bull owned broadcaster ServusTV, Marko suggested Perez was not as focused as Max Verstappen due to him being “South American.”
“The Italian GP was surely one of Checo Perez’s best weekends and we know about his problems in qualifying, which is where he has his doubts,” Marko said.
“Let’s remember that he is South American and so his head is not as focused as Max Verstappen or as Sebastian Vettel was, but racing is his forte and he had a very good race.
“Overtaking three drivers, in George Russell and the Ferrari drivers, was not easy, as we knew they were faster on the straights.
“In the race, Perez did everything right and now we have circuits like Singapore, where he has already won and which suit him better.”
While not only being offensive to South Americans, the statement is not even factually correct with Perez being a Mexican and therefore from North America.
Marko has since issued an apology for the statement, saying: “Concerning my remark about Sergio Perez, ServusTV Sport and Talk, Monday September 4: I would like to apologise for my offensive remark.
“I 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.”
South America has also produced a number of World Champions and occupy the third and fourth spot in most title-winning drivers from a single nation.
Red Bull nor Perez have yet to comment on the situation but Marko’s words understandably caused backlash amongst fans.
It is not even the first time the 80-year-old has made such a comment as he again suggested Perez’s incorrect South American heritage was a cause for his fluctuating form.
“As a South American, he generally has a lot of ups and downs,” Marko told Sky Germany in 2022.
“Max is not afraid, and Perez is very scared, although it isn’t different from how he lives in Mexico City.”