Helmut Marko talks of things being ‘deliberately controlled’ in the wake of Perez apology

Michelle Foster
Sergio Perez in serious conversation with Helmut Marko. Britain July 2023

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez in serious conversation with Helmut Marko.

Issued with a written warning from the FIA for his controversial comments regarding Sergio Perez, Helmut Marko has spoken of things being “deliberately controlled” but wouldn’t go into detail.

Marko courted controversy earlier this month when he made comments about Sergio Perez’s nationality playing a role in his failure to challenge Max Verstappen on a consistent basis.

He apologised on Red Bull-owned broadcaster ServusTV for his “offensive remark”, adding: “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.

Helmut Marko: A lot of things were deliberately controlled

“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.”

The FIA wasn’t impressed and slapped the Red Bull motorsport advisor with a written warning.

Motorsport’s governing body said in a statement: “We can confirm that Helmut Marko has received a written warning and been reminded of his responsibilities as a public figure in motorsport in line with the FIA Code of Ethics.”

And it doesn’t seem Marko was happy with his warning, which came via email, as he told OE24 that “a lot of things were deliberately controlled. But I don’t want to say any more on this topic.”

Perez, second in the championship for Red Bull, says he accepted Marko’s apology.

“I had a private conversation with him,” Perez said in Singapore. “He did apologise. And that to me was the main thing. And yeah, basically, we move on.

“I have a personal relationship with him. And I think you can always have those feelings when you see that sort of stuff.

“Knowing the person helps a lot because I know he doesn’t mean it that way. And I took his apology because I know Helmut from the personal relationship that we have that he doesn’t mean it that way.”

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Marko expects better performance from Red Bull in Japan

Marko’s comments about Perez are a blight on what has been an incredible season for Red Bull with the team romping from one win to another.

That streak, though, came to an end in Singapore where Max Verstappen was only fifth to his team-mate’s P8 on a day in which Carlos Sainz sprayed the victory champagne for Ferrari.

Marko believes Red Bull will be back in the hunt at this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.

“I assume that our package will work there again,” he said. “We didn’t manage to get our tyres within the temperature window in practice and qualifying [in Singapore]. Our car was working again on Sunday anyway.”

Red Bull can win the Constructors’ title on Sunday, they only need to outscore Mercedes by a single point and Ferrari by 24.

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