Red Bull Racing consultant Helmut Marko has had to apologize for racist remarks aimed at F1 driver Sergio Pérez. During an interview after last week’s Italian Grand Prix, Helmut Marko said Checo’s performance was due to his “cultural heritage,” per the BBC, and the 80-year old Red Bull advisor went on to unfavorably compare Checo’s Mexican nationality to that of a German or a Dutchman.
Not only did Marko have the gall to blame Checo’s performance on being Mexican, but he was confidently incorrect when describing the F1 driver’s origin, saying the Mexican pilot is from South America, which is, uh, wrong.
Marko went on to say, “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]” as the Guardian reports.
And when Marko tried to walk back his statements later, he only made it worse, according to the BBC:
The Austrian website www.oe24.at reported him as saying: “It 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.”
Perez and Verstappen shared two wins each in the first four races of the season, after which Perez was talking about challenging for the world title.
This is reportedly not the first time that Helmut Marko has incorrectly said that Checo is from South America. The thing is Sergio Pérez was born in Guadalajara, which is the capital of Jalisco, one of Mexico’s more readily recognized states.
Guadalajara is a major metropolis. Hell, it’s the subject of a well-known song named after the capital city, which has been performed by famous Mexicans such as Vicente Fernández, AKA ’Chente. You would think an advisor to Red Bull’s Formula 1 team would know where his team’s drivers are from.
But, no. Helmut Marko is under the impression that Mexicans are from South America, despite Mexico being part of the North American continent, and, therefore, by definition, making Sergio Pérez a North American — the same as any F1 driver from the U.S. or Canada. No one’s bothered to correct Marko until now, it seems, prompting the 80-year old to issue the following statement:
Concerning my remark about Sergio Perez, ServusTV Sport and Talk, Monday September 4: I would like to apologise for my offensive remark and want to make it absolutely clear that I do not believe that we can generalise about the people from any country, any race, any ethnicity. I was trying to make a point that Checo has fluctuated in his performance this year, but it was wrong to attribute this to his cultural heritage.
Notice that Marko makes no mention of the factual error he committed. That is, his remarks were first and foremost racist, and, second, just plain wrong.