Sergio Perez said Thursday he received a personal apology from Red Bull boss Helmut Marko over comments Marko made suggesting his heritage was to blame for inconsistent results on the track.
In comments last week on ServusTV, an Austrian broadcaster that is part of the Red Bull group, Marko described Perez as “South American” and indicated that could explain a lack of focus or inconsistency. Perez is from Mexico, which is generally considered part of North or Central America.
Marko issued a public apology Friday via ServusTV for what he called his “offensive remark” and said he had been wrong to link Perez’s results to his cultural heritage. As Red Bull’s motorsport adviser, 80-year-old former F1 driver Marko is an influential presence at Red Bull and its second team, AlphaTauri.
“I got an apology from him, a direct apology, which to me was the most important one,” Perez told British broadcaster Sky Sports ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix this weekend. “I know him, and I know that he doesn’t mean it that way as well. That to me is what matters. When you have a personal relationship with someone, I think, it’s a feeling that you’ve got to have and to me that’s the most important one.”
Perez added he now wanted to focus on competing. He is second in the driver’s standings behind Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen.
Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton, who has worked extensively on initiatives to promote diversity in auto racing, told Sky Sports the comments by Marko were “completely unacceptable” and indicated that he did not consider an apology to be enough.
“I think it just highlights, firstly, the work that still needs to be done,” said Hamilton, who is the only Black driver in F1. “There are a lot of people in the background that really are trying to combat these sorts of things but it’s hard to manoeuvre if there are people in the top that have those sort of mindsets, that just stop us from progressing.”