‘Hard man’ Helmut Marko defended over Sergio Perez xenophobia

Helmut Marko was forced to apologise to Sergio Perez after the senior Red Bull advisor sparked controversy in the F1 paddock.

Recent controversy surrounding Red Bull’s team advisor, Dr. Helmut Marko, and his comments about Sergio Perez has sparked debates about racism and motivation within the Formula 1 community. 

While Marko faced criticism for allegedly making racially insensitive remarks about Perez, some, including well-known commentator Fernando Tornello, believe the comments were aimed at motivating the Mexican driver.

Marko’s comments suggested that Perez, being “South American,” lacked the same level of focus as Dutch and German drivers like Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel. 

The controversy prompted Marko to issue an apology, addressing concerns about racism in his remarks.

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Tornello, a respected figure in Mexican racing circles and a commentator for the Latin American arm of ESPN, played down the controversy, urging Mexican fans to view Marko’s words with a more lenient perspective. 

Tornello emphasised Marko’s reputation as a provocateur who uses provocative language to motivate drivers.

Tornello stated, “Mexican fans must accept what Helmut Marko said with a smile. You can’t just blow up everything he says. 

“He’s simply a provocateur. 

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“What he’s really trying to do is motivate the drivers. 

“He’s a hard man. He does it to poke and prod the drivers so they get more out of the car and improve in terms of determination. 

“I think this is why he said that about Checo.”

Tornello went on to explain that Marko’s provocative approach is not exclusive to Perez but extends to all drivers in the Red Bull team. 

He noted, “He doesn’t just do it with Checo – he’s like it with everyone. 

“He just doesn’t speak badly about Verstappen because Verstappen doesn’t give him any reason. 

“In fact, he must treat him (Max) like a spoiled child, so he doesn’t go somewhere else. They need to keep him there.”

Despite the scrutiny and controversy, it remains a fact that Red Bull has consistently affirmed its commitment to Perez’s signed-and-sealed contract until 2024. 

Tornello praised Perez’s performance, acknowledging that while he faces tough competition in the form of Max Verstappen, Perez has shown the ability to beat his highly competitive teammate.

Tornello stated, “Verstappen is a driver who scores more than a 10, while Checo is a driver who normally does not score below an 8 or 9. 

“That is very good for a driver – I think there have been drivers who have become champions with weaker performances than what Checo can do. 

“It’s just that Checo is taking on an absolute animal at Red Bull. 

“Beating Verstappen is almost utopia, and yet Checo has done it a few times.”

Regarding suggestions of unequal treatment within the Red Bull team, Tornello pointed out that each driver has different preferences, and the team adjusts the car to cater to the driver they believe will perform better, which, in this case, is Verstappen.

With six races left in the 2023 season, including Perez’s home race in Mexico, the Mexican driver expressed his determination to win in front of his home crowd, emphasising his desire to achieve victory for himself.

Perez declared, “I’m going to do everything I can to win in Mexico. 

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“I’m not going to ask Max for help to do it. 

“On the contrary, that victory would mean nothing to me. 

“I want to do it for myself.”