Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Imola, 2020

Mongolia’s ambassador complains to FIA and Red Bull over Verstappen’s “racist language”

2020 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Max Verstappen’s use of a derogatory term relating to Mongolians has prompted a formal complaint to the FIA and Red Bull from the country’s ambassador.

The complaint relates to the language Verstappen used during the second practice session when he collided with Racing Point driver Lance Stroll. Verstappen’s comments were played live on F1 TV, which since 2018 has broadcast drivers’ radio communications in full.

As well as directing a string of expletives at his rival and calling him a “retard”, Verstappen also referred to Stroll as a “Mongol”, a discriminatory term used as an insult against Mongolians and those with Down’s Syndrome.

Lundeg Purevsuren, Mongolia’s ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations and World Trade Organisation, wrote to FIA president Jean Todt – who is also the United Nations Secretary-General’s special envoy for road safety – as well as the CEOs of Red Bull and its title sponsor Aston Martin. In the letter, a copy of which RaceFans has seen, Purevsuren drew attention to the FIA’s “We Race As One” initiative, which is intended to promote equality.

“I regret the use of racist and unethical language in public by Red Bull driver Max Verstappen during the practice of the Portuguese Grand Prix of the Formula One World Championship on 23 October 2020,” Purevsuren wrote.

“Sport is considered a symbol of unity all over the world and I believe that there should not be any form of racial discrimination in sports. I support the ‘We Race As One’ initiative of the Formula One against racism. But due to the abovementioned incident, I doubt that this initiative meets reality.

“I am confident that in order to present the recurrence of such unethical behaviour in sports, the International Automobile Federation will take actions against Red Bull driver Max Verstappen for his unacceptable behaviour of repeatedly using racist and derogatory language against any ethnic groups.”

RaceFans has approached Red Bull for a response.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2020 F1 season

Browse all 2020 F1 season articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

Posted on Categories 2020 F1 season articles, F1 newsTags , , , ,

Promoted content from around the web | Become a RaceFans Supporter to hide this ad and others

  • 90 comments on “Mongolia’s ambassador complains to FIA and Red Bull over Verstappen’s “racist language””

    1. The world’s gone mad!

    2. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

      1. This is no issue anymore. Just the media holding on to it.

        1. Why isn’t this an issue anymore? He is a racist, and he is getting classic spoilt white man treatment where gets no punishment. Imagine saying something anti-semetic he would have been banned from F1 for life.

          1. In the Dutch language the word mongool means idiot, since when is calling someone an idiot racist? You should get your facts right before throwing out accusations.

            1. Erik, you really don’t get it, do you?

              Yes the term today generally applies to one someone thinks is an “idiot”, however it is based historically on westerners thinking Mongolians were idiots and lesser people, and also directed at people who looked different physically such as those with Downs Syndrome.

              It is still a racist and unsavoury term, even if you specifically do not see it as such.

    3. Max has already apologized last weekend. Should he apologize again and again?

      1. (Flippant) racism is pretty high on the agenda, in case you hadn’t noticed

      2. From what i heard he didn’t apologize. He just said he shouldn’t say like this. Interesting Verstappen didn’t give an apology when he should have to, while Norris did give an apology when he shouldn’t.

      3. You are confusing Norris with Verstappen. Verstappen never apologised and FIA did set a dangerous precedent by not sanctioning Max last weekend plus his arrogance was on full display this week about the words used as well.

        1. There is a thing called free speech.
          The fact that people are offended by everything is pure fascism.

          1. Verstappen is free to say what he wants. Nobody is stopping him. But he has to take responsability for his words and live with the consequences.

            The Mongolians are also allowed to say what they want.

            It is always the right-wing which mistakes free speech with being able to say what you want without contradiction and without opposing free speech.

    4. Never heard that term in my life. Are we sure he didn’t say mongrel?

      1. People with Down’s syndrome have a typical deformation of their eyelids which to some seems to resemble Asian eyes. This led to the name ‘Mongool’ (Mongol) for (people with) Down’s syndrome in the Dutch language of the distant past. Of course, in more enlightened times the name was abandoned but lives on as a curse to highlight someone’s mental abilities.
        You could say it is unfair to people with Down’s syndrome (and it is), but so is calling someone an ‘idiot’. After all, idiots can’t help being just that just like people with Down’s syndrome can’t do anything about it.

        Cursing is bad, but with so many other curses going without much repercussions you need to have a strong argument to pick one out for punishment. If you don’t want people getting away with using the N word or referring to disabilities AND you want to avoid double standards then all cursing should be banned.
        That will be tough on some cultures though where cursing is still commonplace.

      2. Must admit you dont hear that word much these days. Think the last time before this was when Max used it about one of the stewards.

      3. No its “mongol” for sure, it’s somewhat common in the netherlands (though it is dissapearing) and means the same as “retard”.
        Though I don’t know the history as to why this is.

      4. No, in some places the term was largely used. In fact, wikipedia tell us that iit was a medical term.

      5. It (the word Mongolian or Mongool in Dutch) is (or now probably WAS, it’s a few decades since I was a teenager) pretty generally used in Dutch @the-edge. I think Max just “englished” his dutch cursing there.

      6. @the-edge “Mongrel” when used to describe someone is also absolutely derogatory. It is often used to insult someone when making explicit reference for their mixed origin.

        1. Isn’t the whole point of an insult to be derogatory ?
          As to the aiming of this particular term at someone, it’s probably true because of all the inter-mixing of races on an historical timescale.

        2. @chimaera2003

          He didn’t use the term ‘Mongrel’, he said ‘Mongol’, which wasn’t a reference to people from Mongolia, it was a pure insult relating to the term ‘retard’.

          The word mongol, as an insult term, comes from the term mongoloid, which for the most part was used to reference someone with downs syndrome; a retard.

          In recent times this is known as ‘mong’, especially in western Europe, if someone does something stupid “what did you do that for you mong” is the kinda reply you’d get, this, is what Max did, it had nothing to do with race so this is all a bit overblown IMO.

          1. @ltek Please can you look at the context of my response, I fear you have misunderstood what I have said.

            Although thank you for the unsolicited, detailed etymology lesson.

      7. Mongool did he said is a normal curse word here in the Netherlands (mean enormous stupid if i have to translate it (nothing rasist at all)

        1. Well a “Mongool” is somebody with down syndrome. So not very politically correct. However not at all related to Mongolia xD

        2. @macleod, the first bit might be true in some circles, but isn’t in a large part of Dutch society for quite some time already, because the second part isn’t; as the article says, it certainly is just a bit racist and wrong to equate people with a disability to a group of people from a specific country based on old time, shape, look based science that is now discredited and certainly abandoned, apart from some the words it left behind in languages, and which are best left unused.

          Apart from that, using it as a slur for a driver you are angry at /think little of, it is arguably either racist or ableist. Given the we race as one thing, not really a surprise someone noticed that.

          If Verstappen did not want to do that, I don’t really understand what the big issue us with apologizing and not using the word in the future. Apart from him having issues apologizing at all (which I hope isn’t an attitude issue).

      8. It’s been used for almost a hunderd years and used to be a medical term to describe people with Down syndrome. It’s even been used by John Down himself.
        It is as common a swearword as idiot, or asshole, atleast in the Netherlands. The more modern version would be “retard”.
        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongolian_idiocy

    5. Oh, come on. Just let it go. Governments of countries should have better and more important things to worry about than something this trivial.

      1. Absolutely @jerejj – just another politician that wants his 14 seconds of fame.

        1. @ Rott. And what did you achieve in your life besides being a jealous keyboard hero?

          1. Lol.
            You have no idea. And you never will.

            All I know is I’m gonna watch this dootch waste crumble into oblivion and enjoy every bit of it.
            😃😃😃

            1. Well, he has the idea. He knows everything about…you.
              That’s the killshot.

        2. You 100% think Verstappen still sucks since Mexico 2016, Baku 2018, Brazil 2018, Austria 2019 and Portugal 2020?
          He did regret Brazil by saying it was karma for 2001…

      2. Maybe the governments of the world should be spending time on something else, but as one would have never consider using a n*word, then they should refrain from using this m*word just the same. Either we race as one, or we don’t…there is no in-between, there is no trivial.

        1. Coming from a country with a massive bronze statue of a war criminal and mass rapist. Sad! It doesn’t even have anything to do with racism lmao, it’s ableist issue.

          1. There is a despot of one sort of another in the history of every country…most more recent than 1000 years ago.

      3. Wow! Don’t try to play your trump card. “Downs Syndrome” … term was a “Mongolo1d 1diot” when I was a mere nipper. PC-o-rama.

      4. Please educate on origin of this racist term and down syndrome.

        1. It goes back a very long way to less educated times, when people with Down’s Syndrome were thought to have a resemblance to the inhabitants of Mongolia. This led to the derogatory use of the words said by Max and shorter versions to describe not only people with Downs but also anyone considered to be of low intelligence – which is in itself insulting to both those with Downs and Mongolians.

          You can look up Down’s Syndrome for yourself, but it’s a genetic condition to do with chromosomes leading to learning difficulties and a distinctive appearance.

      5. @jerejj it is that exact attitude is the reason why racism is still prevalent.
        It is unacceptable and has no place anywhere.
        If Stroll upset Verstappen then call him an idiot or similar which is universally accepted. But once the adrenaline drops and marketing people get hold of you apologise to the masses even though there is very little sincerity.

    6. All I heard was “okay, get in” from them. (you know what I’m referencing to)

    7. This is the type of thing can get out of hand very quickly. As I posted the other day it doesn’t matter how big a star a person is bad behaviour or can wreck a career. I accept he may have been just saying it in a fit of temper but Verstappen is not a stupid man, he needs to curb his temper and his language.
      It baffles me why Liberty would allow such a communication to air for the world to hear is beyond me.

      1. Don’t forget his rather aggressive behaviour after his avoidable tangle with Ocon. When you delve into Verstappen’s upbringing you begin to see ample evidence of why he sometimes conducts himself in this manner.

        1. That is so unrelated. Max has this from a popular Dutch Satirical comedy. Thats it. It became something people quoted from the movie. Apparently it stuck in his vocabulary. Petty mistake

      2. he said a Dutch bad word that you cannot translate literally to English. as in Dutch it is way less loaded.
        In Dutch, we say that word 9/10 in a context where an Englishman would say “prick”. (if not , 99/100).
        The fact that people use the translated term (“mongrel”) is of course wrong, as he didn’t say that word.

    8. I understand the ambassador is unhappy. Verstappen used an unfortunate word to insult a fellow driver but surely he did not try to equate the Mongolians (or the ancient Mongols) with people with disabilities. So, Verstappen should accept his ignorance on this point (probably doesn’t even know a country called Mongolia exists) and perhaps do something symbolic such as going to Ullan Bator for some form of altruist activity (COVID permitting). But from there to saying that Verstappen is racist or made a racist comments it is a far cry to me.

      1. Ignorance on this point? He was punished by the FIA for using the exact same word to describe a race steward!! . How on earth can you think he was and is not fully aware of its meaning?

    9. Sorry to break it to our Mongolian fellows, but many Central European nations also use the term “Mongol” for someone who doesn’t understand – which is, given the geographic distance, nothing illogical. It isn’t meant to be disrespectful towards an ethnic, I for one feel sorry if it’s seen as such.

    10. Hello, can I comment? The third try:

      The term Max Verstappen used is quite widely used among Central European nations, it is given to someone who doesn’t understand – and it’s not such an offshot given the geographical distance. Sure, it is used as a derogatory term but it never implied any negative ethnic characteristics. The ambassador is probably in need of intercultural lectures.

      1. in some languages the same word is used for more than 1 thing. In Dutch, “mongool” is both an inhabitant from Mongolia or a very common curse word, most notably in south-east part of Netherlands where Max grew up. Where in England one might say “hey prick”, there they say “hey mongool”.

        There is no good translation to English. If you do an attempt with “mongrel” you blow it up as it is more loaded, as it’s more strongly linked to Down Syndrome.

        So please people, move on.

      2. It’s also a derogatory term for people with Down’s Syndrome (which seems to have been glossed over in these comments) after the eponymous doctor wrote a paper suggesting a link between the Mongolian people and the syndrome. He himself dismissed the theory as incorrect some years later but the association stuck.

        Ignorance of a word’s meaning isn’t really an excuse. If you don’t know what a word means, probably best not to use it.

      3. That’s a good point, it’s easy to judge by our own standards but F1 drivers come from a variety of cultures and most don’t have English as a first language so what’s offensive to us might be everyday language or even mean something completely different to others.

        One thing I’m pretty sure though is that he wasn’t referring to Mongolians…

      4. Sure, it is used as a derogatory term but it never implied any negative ethnic characteristics.

        How can use of an ethnic name as a derogatory term not have negative implications for that ethnic group?
        Holland isn’t in Central Europe. Used as an insult, the term is globally offensive to Mongols and people with trisomy 21. And all of us are in constant need of intercultural education, that’s just part of learning and life generally.

      5. You are right but also wasting your time, anything that can be construed as being racist will be used as such, even if it means taking things out of context.

      6. @pironitheprovocateur when John Langdon Down invented the term in the 1860s, he quite clearly intended it to express a sense of racial inferiority – he repeatedly put forward the theory that those who were afflicted with Down’s syndrome were “regressing” into Mongolians, which he saw as “congenital idiots” and an ethnically inferior race.

        It is unambiguous from the papers and personal documents of John Down that the term was based on assumptions of negative ethnic characteristics and racist ideology (i.e. that Mongolians were all mentally incapacitated because they were an inferior species of human). The term has therefore always been strongly bound up in racial prejudice, which is why the World Health Organisation itself revoked the term in 1965 after a formal complaint from Mongolia at the United Nations.

        1. From WIKIPEDIA:
          Down’s paper also argued that if mere disease is able to break down racial barriers to the point of causing the facial features of the offspring of whites to resemble those of another race, then racial differences must be the result of variation, affirming therefore the unity of the human species. Down used this reasoning to argue against a tendency he perceived in his day to regard different races as separate species.
          What a wicked man he was….

      7. That still doesn’t make it right. So you are freeing he’s using a derogatory word, that’s a root problem.

        I think none of these f1 drivers can ever be as great as Lewis. The cleanest driver of all time.

      8. He is on the world stage. I am from New Zealand, ironically named after a place in the Netherlands. Calling someone a Mon*** is completely understood here to refer to someone with downs syndrome in derogatory way.

        If you are on the world stage, and want all the fame and glory, he needs to understand that words matter. Sponsers will only tolerate it for so long.

    11. Absolutely correct. I’m glad this has been brought back up.

      Max needs to conduct himself in a more professional manner going forwards. He also needs to sincerely apologise for what he said, not bat it away as ‘the problem of those who are offended’

      Saying “it wasn’t my intention to offend anyone” doesn’t constitute an apology either.

      1. I think he doesn’t care as he (and me) sees not problem with it. So Max ned to learn English curse words instead of using Dutch ones. Then the problem is gone.

    12. Max Verbatim! : Around the World in 80 Insults.

    13. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words hecking kill me.

      1. # Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’.

    14. Mongolian isn’t a race. Quit whining. So tired of hearing the word “racist” mis-used and overused.

      1. Incorrect, it is an ethnicity.
        Also used to specifically mean Downs syndrome.

    15. I have an opinion
      31st October 2020, 22:40

      If Verstappen had actually used the term “Mongol” for Stroll, it would carry no negative connotation (unless one happened to have ancestors that were victims of Mongol military expansions).

      Instead, Max actually said “mongool”, the Dutch equivalent of the English word “mongoloid”. This is a term that describes an Asian physiognomy, not specific to Mongolia. It had also been used to describe people with Down’s Syndrome, as they had been likened (in the eyes of Caucasians) to Asians in apperance. In this context, Max denigrates Lance as being stupid (and specifically as having Down’s Syndrome). In one succint blow, Max manages to offend those with Down’s Syndrome, Mongolians and Asians in general.

      “Mongoloid” is a moribund word in English in all contexts, but “mongool” is common in parts of the Netherlands as an insult. Mongolia’s permanent representative to the United Nations might consider also complaining to officials of the Netherlands as this, rather than motorsport, is the source of the problem.

      1. Of course you do realise Max was already punished for using the term about a race steward in the past?
        He pressed transmit on his microphone and repeated a phrase he knew to be offensive to many.
        Whether it is used in Holland or not is irrelevant, as clearly he knows the words meaning in English and the offence it causes world wide.

        1. Finally someone mentions that Max had to push a button to get his message of hate transmitted. If the FIA are going to splash We Race As One on everything, then they need to be prepared to deal with the language Max used and sanction him. Not taking action, when they had previously done so, has opened the so called can of worms, and now, unfortunately, the FIA may have to take draconian steps when a simple reprimand and fine would have done.

    16. It absolutely does not matter if it is common to insult others with this word in the Netherlands, is not appropriate language and should not be used, specially in an international professional environment

    17. How is this different from the Kyle Larson incident?

      1. Possibly in that what Larson said is nowadays really only used in the express knowledge of it being racist @serg33,while this page shows plenty of commenters not (wanting to) realize that./being in denial about that with this word?

        1. This is the simplistic view we have today explained by bosyber. Say something that can be taken as racist and you are labelled as racist for the end of time. If you don’t see it you are denial, and probably racist too. There is no common sense, nobody being offended and no sense of situational awareness. A realistic history book is interpreted the same as tv interview or a fight on the streets. Say the word and you are guilty. Using a single word once suddenly defines your whole being and you are done. This is another witch hunt and a result of the cancel culture we live.

          The hard reality of the situation is that max used a bad word. He did not offend anybody. He should not do it again. This one guy who keeps bringing it up in the social media is doing it just for publicity. But it is nothing more than that.

          Max doesn’t need to get on his knees and apologize every weekend, he doesn’t deserve to lose his seat or lose his career. Just imagine the whole hypocricy of this situation from the perspective of his accusers. Had he used the n word instead of the m word his career would be over. So even in the minds of these cancel people there is a clear scale of worthyness. One group of people deserve more than someone else and that in itself is racist.

          I recently watched a documentary about why people commit serious crimes and one of the interesting things was that most people have something called sacred value. This is something that can be measured by scanning their brain. Once that value turns on there is a decrease of activity in the areas of the brain that deal with deliberate reasoning. And it makes those people willing to fight for that value. What this creates is radicalization of ideas and a skewed perception of reality. This is what is happening to racism. It has turned into this holy value that is destructive instead of constructive. It becomes yet another message of us vs them instead of we. It is not about changing the world for the better. It is about “getting” those people who you feel hurt your holy value.

          1. I agree wholeheartedly with every word you have written here. Whoever the moralists are on this forum and out there in the world, I am curious to hear how many of them never ever did curse at some point in their lives. How come everybody seems to be holier than the Holy Spirit?

            If he would have been saying this in an interview when being calm and be able to choose his words, this would never happen. It happens in the heat of the moment, I don’t see how people cannot see that. What would those same people’s first reaction be when they are driving on the highway and somebody accidently doesn’t look in their mirror and drives into them? Would they really not have any bad word coming out of their mouths at all?

            1. @aegges66 except he has also used the same terms in interviews, such as describing the stewards Connelly in the same manner when he was complaining about the stewards penalising him for his pass off track during the 2017 US Grand Prix.

              This isn’t just a one off incident – it’s something that he has repeatedly done, and indeed done in cases where even the argument that it was “heat of the moment” does not apply.

    18. In some countries Mongol is refered to people with down syndrome. Like stated above. Max should set a good example to kids watching at home. He should be a ambassador for the sport. I he refered to blacks Lewis would have been on top of him.

    19. Oh man, I guess in today’s community James Hunt or Piquet would be target of a manhunt by the “feels and polcorrect generation”.

    20. It’s about time this overrated punk gets punished for running his arrogant and overactive mouth like he thinks he is the oracle of F1. I find it totally offensive that the FIA continually allows him to spew vulgarities time after time. Hey! I wouldn’t be allowed to write obscene comments here now would I?

    21. Bet that ambassator is enjoying driving his new Mercedes 😁😁😁

      However the FIA should have fined Max straight away to show their stance on racism and discrimination. It’s now a bit of mess as no apology was given.

      1. The FIA should just stop with broadcasting radiomessages that contain swearing, and otherwise people need to take it on the chin.

        When you can’t handle swearing don’t watch F1.

    22. Now you’re being sexist…

    23. You can be sure Hamilton fanatics have been writing to everywhere possible to get at Verstappen. Even the Mongolian embassy apparently, lol.

      1. What has it got to do with Hamilton or specifically his fans?
        The majority of fans and people generally are going to object to any driver using the term.
        It goes well beyond F1, when brand ambassadors use such language.
        Check out why Kyle Larson was suspended by NASCAR.
        This is a repeat offence, punished before by the FIA- he knows very well the words origins and meaning.

    24. Puzzling the FIA are not doing anything here.
      Last time he used the term, “Mongol” he received sanction by the FIA (when he used it regards a steward)
      Now, repeat offence, they just ignore it?
      He clearly can’t say he didn’t know it was offensive as he was punished before for using the same word.
      RBR sweep it under the carpet?
      #weraceasone lol, one rule for Max another for everyone else?

    25. Obviously the Fia should impose a harsh sanction on both the team and the Dutch. Perhaps the withdrawal of his Formula 1 driver’s license would be a good example.

    26. If we also take into account Max’s refusal to wear a black lives matter cap/shirt and kneel down with Lewis, I guess we get his politics…sounds like an ignorant far right guy. No surprise given he gave up education around 16 or so.

    27. And to this day, my opinion on what happened in Baku 2018 still won’t change…ever.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.
    If the person you're replying to is a registered user you can notify them of your reply using '@username'.