Recently, Red Bull Racing advisor Helmut Marko caused a stir with his comment about Sergio Pérez and his ‘South American’ background. Although Marko apologized and Pérez also accepted it, his comment remained the talk of the town for a long time.
Marko’s comment was discussed in the program In de Slipstream, where Kees van de Grint expressed his disapproval: ‘It is a stupid comment, we agree on that.’ He emphasized that origin and skin color do not matter in motorsport and that Marko’s comment was factually incorrect. Van de Grint names legendary South American drivers such as Emerson Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna, who have all proven that they can fully concentrate on qualifying and racing. Van de Grint concludes that Marko’s comment was unfounded.
Forgive and forget
Rudy van Buren, a sim driver at Red Bull, joins the conversation and highlights the complexity of the modern era and the ongoing debate surrounding such statements. He said: ‘Nowadays you can’t say anything anymore, that is also a problem of the present time.’ The sim driver adds: ‘Is the comment wrong? That is not the discussion, but if he has officially apologized to Pérez’s face and Pérez says that’s fine, then that’s the end of the matter and we move on. Then it just has to stop.’ He criticizes the ongoing conversation and hype surrounding the comment. Van Buren asked the question: ‘What is the final station?’ and emphasized that it is not constructive to continue to dig into an apology that has already been made.
Marko’s statement has undoubtedly caused controversy and divided opinions in the Formula 1 community. It also highlights the importance of taking responsibility for statements and their effect on others, especially in a sport with a global audience and a diverse group of drivers. In Pérez’s case, he appears to have accepted Marko’s apology and wanted to close the matter.