Demands for ‘NASCAR consequences’ and ‘clear stance’ from F1 over Helmut Marko comments

Thomas Maher
Zandvoort: Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko in the paddock at the Dutch Grand Prix.

Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko in the F1 paddock.

Sky F1 broadcaster Karun Chandhok believes a firm message needs to be sent by Formula 1 as a sport to respond to Helmut Marko’s controversial comments.

Red Bull’s Helmut Marko landed himself in the headlines for all the wrong reasons after the Italian Grand Prix, following comments from the Austrian in which he made remarks about Sergio Perez’s nationality playing a role in his failure to challenge Max Verstappen on a consistent basis.

Marko has issued a public apology for the comments, while Perez has graciously accepted the apology as the Singapore GP weekend has begun. But, with no public stance from Red Bull or F1 regarding Marko’s comments, Karun Chandhok and Danica Patrick have said more needs to be made of the incident.

Karun Chandhok: F1 has got to take a stand

Speaking about Marko’s comments and Perez’s acceptance of his apology, Chandhok told Sky F1 that he’s surprised that the offensive comments have not been addressed in more visible fashion by either his team or the sport itself.

“It’s a little bit confusing, to be honest,” Chandhok said.

“When you have senior figures in the team who have made comments, which are clearly offensive, it is quite surprising not to hear anything from the team itself and from F1 – because I don’t think we’ve heard anything official from F1 either.

“So we’ll see how the weekend develops, and if that changes, but obviously, it’s now been a few days.

“It sounds like Checo’s had a one-to-one conversation with Helmut. It sounds like he’s accepted it, but he’s obviously in a slightly different position because he’s effectively employed by Helmut.

“I think ultimately, as a sport, we’ve got to take a stand. There have been various moments over the last three years where the sport has come together and collectively taken a stand against certain things. So I am somewhat surprised there hasn’t been anything out of F1 or the team.”

One of the ‘various moments’ that Chandhok was alluding to involved Red Bull, who dropped former junior driver Juri Vips following the Estonian using a racial slur while live-streaming a gaming session – Marko himself playing a role in the decision to drop Vips from Red Bull’s programme.

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Danica Patrick: NASCAR drew a line in the sand

Earlier this year, NASCAR driver Noah Gragson was suspended by the sport for liking an offensive meme on social media, relating to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020.

Kyle Larson, another NASCAR driver, used a racial slur while live-streaming in 2020, and was suspended by Chip Ganassi Racing and NASCAR. Later fired by CGR and dropped by sponsors McDonalds, Chevrolet, and Credit One Bank, Larson issued a public apology after completing sensitivity training. NASCAR accepted his contrition by the end of 2020, and Larson has since resumed his racing career.

But such a hard stance on unacceptable comments is needed from the sport itself, Danica Patrick believes, with the former NASCAR and IndyCar racer offering her thoughts on the topic in response to Chandhok.

“Obviously, this happened over a week ago, but it’s taken a long time to get any kind of answers and a statement,” she said.

“I think, number one in the media, you’ve got to really stay ahead of things as much as you can, and I don’t think that’s really been the case.

“But there are consequences and obviously, you know, in my friend Kyle Larson’s situation or Noah Gragson – they were penalised.

“They were suspended and Kyle lost his ride. He lost his sponsor, lost his ride. So there are penalties and they’ve obviously laid the line in the sand exactly where that’s at in the series. I think that there’s just yet to be the desire from F1 to put that line in the sand where that’s at.”

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