Helmut Marko, a key advisor at Red Bull Racing, has come under heavy scrutiny for making xenophobic comments about Formula 1 driver Sergio Perez.
Marko’s remarks, which insinuated that Perez’s focus was lacking compared to Max Verstappen due to his South American origin, have sparked outrage within the Formula 1 community.
Despite Sergio Perez hailing from North America, Marko’s comments raised concerns about stereotypes and discrimination in the sport.
Sergio Perez responded to Marko’s comments, stating that the Red Bull adviser had issued an apology, which he accepted.
However, the incident has ignited a broader conversation within Formula 1 about the need for respect and inclusivity.
Team principals from Haas, Mercedes, and McLaren have collectively criticised Marko’s comments, questioning his mindset and place in the sport.
Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren, emphasised the importance of being cautious with words, stating, “I think you have to be very careful what you say to anybody.
“It was not a great comment.
“You have to be very respectful of everyone.
“And don’t make comments that can be viewed inappropriately.”
Guenther Steiner, the team principal of Haas, echoed Brown’s sentiments and highlighted that stereotypes have no place in modern society.
“Stereotyping these days doesn’t work anymore. We need to be careful with what you say,” Steiner asserted.
He also shared his surprise at the geographical error, saying, “I was surprised to hear that Mexico is in South America.”
Toto Wolff, the team principal of Mercedes, known for the team’s commitment to diversity and anti-racism efforts, expressed serious concern about Marko’s comments.
He questioned the mindset of the 80-year-old and stressed the gravity of the issue, saying, “We’re laughing about the South America part, but it’s a topic that’s not at all funny.
“It’s not only what has been said, but it’s the mindset that you can even come up with these things.
“That hasn’t gone any place in F1.”
Wolff emphasised Formula 1’s need for more diversity and inclusion, highlighting that statements like Marko’s do not align with the sport’s ongoing efforts.
“Statements like this don’t shine the light on Formula 1 that F1 deserves for all of the activities,” he added.
Andrea Stella, the team principal of McLaren, echoed Wolff’s sentiments and shared his own experiences with stereotypes during his 23-year tenure in the sport.
Stella emphasised the importance of respecting all individuals in Formula 1 and called for the sport to be an open community for everyone.
He underscored the need for actions that demonstrate the sport’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, stating, “We don’t need just to have a strategy in place, we need to have behaviours that show to people how we value those in F1.”
Stella also emphasised the significance of inclusion, stating, “We just need to show really inclusion.
“And to show that Formula 1 is an open community where everybody can find his or her place.”