Wolff: No place in F1 for Marko's Perez comments

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has said the type of comment made recently by Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko “hasn’t got any place in Formula 1”.

Helmut Marko, Consultant, Red Bull Racing and Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing

Other team bosses also condemned the words spoken by Marko in a ServusTV interview in which he linked Sergio Perez’s form to his cultural heritage, and angered the driver’s fellow Mexicans by placing the country in South rather than North America.

The comments created a stir on social media and led to a public statement from Marko as well as a personal apology to Perez.

Asked by Autosport about the matter in an FIA press conference in Singapore, all the F1 team bosses stressed Marko was in the wrong.

“Stereotyping these days doesn't work anymore,” said Haas team principal Guenther Steiner. “We need to be careful what we say.

“Sometimes it's very difficult to do, because what you say, you don't mean it, and then you shouldn't say it, obviously, if you're aware of it.

"I didn't hear it, because I could have understood in German how it was said, so I just read it, and maybe in translation it maybe sounds different.

“But I think it is what it is. And I think they are dealing with it. And I was surprised to hear that Mexico was in South America!"

Wolff made it clear that he took the matter very seriously, and that it was not good for F1 as a whole.

"We're laughing about South America,” said the Austrian. “But it's a topic that's not at all funny. And it's not only what has been said, but it's the mindset, that you can even come up with these things. And that hasn't got any place in F1.

“That's not something that should have been said in the past, and certainly not now, and in the future.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, with Helmut Marko, Consultant, Red Bull Racing

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, with Helmut Marko, Consultant, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“We all know that we need more diversity in F1, more inclusion, and the teams do their best to create an environment where this is possible. And obviously statements like this don't shine the light on F1 that F1 deserves for all of the activities.”

Alfa Romeo team boss Alessandro Alunni Bravi said F1 has to work collectively to address such issues, while acknowledging that his countrymen have been the subject of national stereotyping.

“For me, it's very important, as F1, as a community, we need to be respectful,” he said. “We started a path all together going to towards diversity and inclusion. And this must be factual.

“We don't need just to have a strategy in place. We need to have behaviours that show to people how we value this in F1, and we need to be careful how to comment things.

“I'm Italian. So I know that sometimes we have been facing the same comments as Italians. I think that everyone must be respected.

“We are all working hard, we are all trying to prove that we can do a good job here in F1 at any level from drivers to people. We just need to show really inclusion and to show that F1 is an open community, where everybody can find his or her place.”

McLaren’s Zak Brown echoed his colleagues: “It was not a great comment, you can understand why people were offended by it. I didn't hear it myself. I've only read it. But you have to be very
respectful of everyone, and not make comments that can be viewed inappropriately.”

In a separate Sky Sports F1 interview Marko’s Red Bull colleague Christian Horner made it clear that he didn’t approve of what was said, while stressing that the veteran Austrian has learned from it.

“Firstly those comments, they weren't right,” he said. “Helmut quickly recognised that and apologised for that both publicly and directly to Sergio.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, Helmut Marko, Consultant, Red Bull Racing, Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing, in the garage

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, Helmut Marko, Consultant, Red Bull Racing, Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing, in the garage

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

“He spoke directly to Sergio about it, and I think you're always learning in life, even at 80 years of age, and inevitably lessons have been learned.

“Checo is a massively popular member of our team, he's an important member of our team and we pushed very hard to sign him back for the 2021 season.

“We have a huge following around the world and we take that very seriously, very responsibly and the fan following not just that Checo has but the team has and F1 has, we're very conscious of. This is his 250th race, we want to focus on that.”

Regarding the lack of an official comment from the team itself, he said: “From Helmut's perspective, he's apologised. He's not an employee of Red Bull Racing, so in terms of why didn't we put out a statement, he's part of the Red Bull wider group, and the group issued that apology through the ServusTV channel.”

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