Lewis Hamilton condemns Red Bull amid xenophobia scandal

Lewis Hamilton has called for more inclusivity in sports after Helmut Marko was criticised for making remarks about Sergio Perez’s ethnicity.

Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has raised concerns over the lack of response from Red Bull and Formula 1 officials following Helmut Marko’s recent controversial comments, which Hamilton deemed “unacceptable” and “interesting.” 

Marko, a motorsport advisor for Red Bull, stirred controversy after the Italian Grand Prix when he attributed Sergio Perez’s inconsistent performance to his ethnicity.

In his comments to Red Bull’s Servus TV channel, Marko stated, “We know that he has problems in qualifying, he has fluctuations in form. 

“He is South American and he is just not as completely focused in his head as Max (Verstappen) is or as Sebastian (Vettel).” 

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Marko’s remarks were widely criticised as racial stereotyping, prompting him to issue a formal apology.

Hamilton, a vocal advocate for reducing discrimination in Formula 1, believes that an apology is insufficient and expressed curiosity about the absence of disciplinary action against Marko, given that Red Bull has taken action against individuals in the past for similar incidents.

Speaking to Sky, Hamilton stated, “I think this is not something that you just apologize [for], and it is all okay. I think there needs to be more done.” 

He added, “I think teams, when they’ve had individuals, particularly drivers, make comments but [also] some individuals in the back room, they usually are removed or at least they put out a quote and say they don’t support that sort of thing. 

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“So it is interesting they haven’t done so for this one.”

Hamilton emphasised that this approach doesn’t reflect the values of his own team. 

He underscored the importance of ongoing efforts to create a more inclusive environment in the sport, work that he is actively pursuing with his team and within the broader Formula 1 community.

Hamilton referred to the precedent set when Red Bull removed former reserve driver Juri Vips in 2022 following a racist slur he made on social media. 

Teams have been decisive in taking action against personnel when racist behavior has surfaced.

 In 2019, Hamilton’s own Mercedes team dismissed four staff members for racist bullying, and Red Bull also terminated an employee last year after racist WhatsApp messages surfaced on social media.

READ: Toto Wolff: ‘We’ll be right behind Red Bull next week’

Regarding Marko’s comments, Hamilton labeled them “completely unacceptable” and highlighted their detrimental impact on Formula 1’s efforts to be more inclusive and combat discrimination. 

He noted that such comments undermine the progress being made by individuals and organisations working behind the scenes to address these issues.

Hamilton concluded, “It’s hard to manoeuvre when you have people that are at the top. If there are people in the top that have those sorts of mindsets, that can just stop us from progressing.”