Sergio Perez meets with Helmut Marko

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez spoke with Helmut Marko after the team’s advisor was embroiled in controversy.

Sergio Perez has gracefully accepted an apology from Helmut Marko, Red Bull’s motorsport advisor, following Marko’s controversial xenophobic comments. 

Marko had suggested in an interview with Servus TV that Perez’s performance struggles were linked to his South American background, insinuating that South Americans lacked focus compared to Europeans. 

Although Marko later retracted his comments, the incident sparked outrage and discussions within the Formula 1 community.

Perez, ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix, revealed that he had a private conversation with Marko, who offered a heartfelt apology. 

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Perez emphasised the importance of the apology, stating, “I know he doesn’t mean it that way. 

“I took his apology because I know Helmut, and the personal relationship that we have, and he hasn’t meant it that way.” 

He acknowledged that if he had read Marko’s comments in isolation, they would have seemed offensive, but his personal relationship with Marko led him to a different interpretation.

“If I were to look at those comments [in isolation], I would feel like that [anti-Latino sentiment],” Perez added. 

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“Knowing Helmut, because I have a personal relationship with him, it didn’t sound to me. 

“To be honest, we have a personal relationship so whatever I say to the media, or he says to the media, it’s different from the conversations we have.”

After Marko’s comments went viral on social media, he issued a public apology through Servus TV, acknowledging his mistake and re-affirming Red Bull’s commitment to fighting hate and discrimination within the sport.

Perez, who is out of contract at the end of 2024, has faced criticism throughout the Formula 1 season as he struggled to match the results of his teammate Max Verstappen. 

Reports have even suggested that Perez might consider retirement due to his growing family that remains across the Atlantic Ocean. 

Several drivers, including Yuki Tsunoda, Liam Lawson, Daniel Ricciardo, and Lando Norris, are being considered as potential replacements if Perez fails to improve. 

However, Perez remains focused on the present, stating, “I’m staying to do another year. 

“For me, I’m staying here for another year, and then we will see. 

“That’s how I see things. 

“I think we’ve got to want to get through this year as competitively as possible. 

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“I think early next year we will have a clearer picture of what the team wants to do and what I want to do.”

Red Bull has the opportunity to secure their second consecutive constructor’s championship this weekend.

To claim the title, they need to outscore Mercedes by 43 points. If Red Bull finishes 1-2 and Mercedes fails to score a single point, they will clinch the championship.