Max Verstappen believes the matter is now closed after Red Bull’s Helmut Marko issued an apology to Sergio Perez for controversial comments.
Marko courted controversy following the recent Italian Grand Prix by describing Perez, F1’s only Mexican driver, as South American, claiming Perez’s struggles alongside Verstappen in 2023 can partly be explained by the nature of his background.
With Marko coming under extreme criticism, it emerged that the Austrian met with Perez ahead of this weekend’s Singapore GP to issue a face-to-face apology.
Max Verstappen urges Red Bull to move on from controversy
Perez told media at the Marina Bay track that Marko didn’t “mean it that way”, with the 33-year-old keen to “move on” from the saga.
The Mexican star’s thoughts have been echoed by team-mate Verstappen, who is also satisfied with Marko’s apology.
Asked in Singapore if he could play a role in helping Marko to use more responsible language, Verstappen told Sky F1: “I don’t think I’m the right person to educate Helmut, but I think he quickly realised what he said and he apologised for it.
“And for me, then it’s done. When people realise they made a mistake and they correct it, for me you move forward – and that’s also exactly what we do as a team.”
Verstappen’s comments come after Lewis Hamilton, the Mercedes driver and seven-time F1 World Champion, expressed his disgust with Marko’s comments to Sky F1.
“I mean, it’s totally unacceptable what he said,” Hamilton said.
“Whilst we say there’s no room for any type of discrimination within this sport, which there should be no room for, to have leaders – people in his position – making comments like this is not good for us moving forward.
“So I think it just highlights for us the work that still needs to be done. There are a lot of people in the background that really are trying to combat these sorts of things, but it’s hard to manoeuvre when you have people that are at the top, if there are people [at] the top that have those sort of mindsets that just stop us from progressing.
“I’m not surprised, to be honest.”
Marko, who turned 80 in April, made nine grand prix starts as a driver across 1971/72 and won the historic Le Mans 24 Hours race in 1971.
He has played an instrumental role in Red Bull’s F1 activities since 205, overseeing the rise of such talents as Verstappen, four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel and eight-time grand prix winner Daniel Ricciardo.