Red Bull's Helmut Marko warned by FIA in wake of Sergio Perez comments

Red Bull adviser Helmut Marko is officially warned by FIA for a ‘xenophobic slur’ towards Sergio Perez – after Lewis Hamilton slammed his  ‘totally unacceptable’ comments

  • The 80-year-old later tried to clarify his comments but few were convinced 
  • Seven-time world champion Hamilton was vocal about his views on Marko 
  • Both Perez and team-mate Verstappen have struggled in Singapore on Friday

Formula One’s governing body the FIA issued Helmut Marko with an official warning over comments made towards the Red Bull adviser’s driver, Sergio Perez. 

The former driver originally made the comments at the Italian Grand Prix, and was accused of xenophobia when he appeared to link Perez’s uneven form on the track to his ethnicity. 

‘We know that he has problems in qualifying, he has fluctuations in form, he is South American, and he is just not completely focused in his head as Max (Verstappen, his team-mate) or as Sebastian (Vettel)’, Marko said somewhat erroneously, as Perez is Mexican – which is geographically in North America. 

The 80-year-old was widely condemned for his remarks, and later offered up an apology which did little to diffuse tensions, stating last week that: ‘(the comment) wasn’t meant that way. I meant that a Mexican has a different mentality than a German or a Dutchman. 

‘But who knows, maybe it’s controlled.’

The FIA have sent Helmut Marko a written warning over comments made towards Sergio Perez

The Mexican driver accepted an apology from his Red Bull adviser but Marko’s comments have attracted widespread criticism

Perez and team-mate Max Verstappen (left) finished second and first at the Italian Grand Prix

As per Sky Sports, the FIA have moved to send a warning to the adviser – who was a close friend of the constructor’s late co-owner Dietrich Mateschitz – in writing. 

A spokesperson shared: ‘We can confirm that Helmut Marko has received a written warning and been reminded of his responsibilities as a public figure in motor sport in line with the FIA Code of Ethics.’

As drivers gathered in Singapore for this weekend’s grand prix, seven-time world champion was one of the most vocal parties to criticise Marko’s remarks. 

‘It’s completely unacceptable,’ Hamilton said on Friday. ‘We say there is no room for any type of discrimination in this sport and there should be no room for it.

‘To have leaders, people in his position, making comments like this is not good for us. It highlights the work that still needs to be done.

‘There are a lot of people in the background that really are combating these kinds of things but it is hard to manoeuvre if those at the top have these mindsets. I am not surprised to be honest.’

Perez, who sits second in the drivers’ standings a long way off his world champion team-mate Verstappen, has for his part accepted an apology from Marko. 

Discussing the incident, last year’s winner of this weekend’s race said: ‘I had a private conversation with Helmut and he did apologise. To me, that was the main thing.

‘Basically, we move on. I have a personal relationship with him. Knowing the person helps a lot, because I know he doesn’t mean it that way.

Lewis Hamilton condemned Marko’s comments ahead of race weekend in Singapore on Friday

‘Personally, I didn’t get offended.’

On the track in Singapore, both Red Bulls struggled to get off the mark during Friday’s practice session. 

Perez and Verstappen were seventh and eight-fastest respectively, and both wrestled with a lack of rear grip on the street circuit. 

At the top of the day’s rankings were Ferrari, who ended the day with a driver one-two as Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc were the two fastest ahead of Saturday’s qualifying. 

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