Marko given written warning by FIA over Perez comments

Formula 1

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Red Bull motor sport consultant Helmut Marko has been given a written warning by the FIA over comments he made about the team’s driver Sergio Perez last week.

Marko made the comments during an appearance on Red Bull’s Austrian television channel Servus TV on September 4th. Talking about Perez’s performance in the Italian Grand Prix the day before, Marko said Perez “is South American [sic] and his head just isn’t as fully focused as Max [Verstappen] or Sebastian [Vettel].”

Servus TV issued a statement on behalf of Marko four days later saying he “would like to apologise for my offensive remark.”

The FIA has confirmed Marko has also received a written warning and been reminded of his responsibilities as a public figure in motorsport in line with their Code of Ethics. Article 1.2 of the code states “there shall be no discrimination between participants to the FIA activities on the basis of race, skin colour, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic or social origin, language, religion, philosophical or political opinion, family situation or disability.”

Yesterday Perez confirmed Marko had personally apologised to him for the comment. “I have a personal relationship with him,” said Perez. “When you see that sort of stuff knowing the person helps a lot because I know he doesn’t mean it that way. And I took his apology because I know Helmut from the personal relationship that he doesn’t mean it that way.”

Marko’s remark was roundly criticised by rival team bosses during Friday’s FIA press conference in Singapore. “It was not a great comment,” said McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown. “I can understand why people were offended by it.”

Alfa Romeo team representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi said: “It’s very important that as Formula 1, as a community, we need to be respectful.

“We started a path all together going to work towards diversity and inclusion and this must be factual. We don’t need to just have a strategy in place, we need to have behaviours that show to people how we value this in Formula 1 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 Formula 1 at any level, from drivers to people. We just need to show really inclusion and to show that Formula 1 is an open community where everybody can find his place, or hers.”

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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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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39 comments on “Marko given written warning by FIA over Perez comments”

  1. I think Red Bull should fire him ASAP and replace him with Seb Vettel, Marko has never showed respect to Sergio Perez. If I had the power I would definitely fire him as what’s the difference between what he has said and what Vip’s said that time. I know they two separate events but they cut all ties with Vips over it. Talk about double standards.

    1. What happened to Vips was ridiculous overkill. Imagine if a number of convos with friends were recorded and then the worst thing, taken out of context (doesn’t have to be racially related), was made public and portrayed as the essence of your being. I doubt ANYONE would have a job after that.

      As for Marko, his judgement seems to be getting worse by the year. However, it’s not like he said x race is inferior! He made racially tinged jokes that are unacceptable. However, if he cleans up his acts and avoids any similar comments, I don’t think he needs to be labeled a monster and banned. But if he crosses the line again, then he should be canned.

      1. If you use the n-word with friends you’re still a racist… Just a racist with friends.

        1. That is not true.

          1. That is not true

            Which bit Denis?
            The bit that suggests it’s racist whenever and wherever used?
            Or the bit that suggests that racists have friends rather than co-offenders?

        2. Totally depends on your intentions. If what I mean and what I say are the same, I could have been the antichrist.
          But reality is, I am just Dutch.
          I could totally get how friends would use the N-word in vain, without any racist intentions.
          We live in Germany and I have learned that overhere you can’t make racist comments as a joke. People will immediately correct you. But when they are with friends, Germans (especially the older ones who had a beer to many) are often down right closet case Nazis.
          I prefer people making jokes that might be offensive over people who seem to to be correct, but are silently waiting for a new right wing regime.

        3. Apparently some people need to be reminded that a racist joke is still racist ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          1. I worked at an Italian butcher shop in HS mostly cause I was bored and the guys there were a riot. There was one guy who seemed to know every joke in the world and as the lone Jew there, I especially found those jokes funny. He told jokes about every race, religion, nationality/ethnicity, including his own. I wonder if he was a terrible racist. I guess so according to you.

            Hopefully, one day, all conversation, no matter where and with who, will be gentrified into solely positive and always carefully worded before hand with checks mid-sentence to see if some lone “activist” using the “royal we” has declared a formally mundane word newly off-limits. It’ll be dull. It’ll be stifling. But boy-oh-boy, will our safe spaces be safe…

        4. Every Dave Chappelle super fan who isn’t black is a dangerous hate monger! How do I know? Because they repeated his jokes over and over. I guess I thought that they really liked his jokes, but I guess not. They were hardcore racists.

          Anyway, as I noted, even if you’ve never said a slur in any context, there’s something in everyone’s texts, emails and or oral conversations that if plucked out and published to the world with angry finger pointing toward you, you’d all be publicly crucified. The most ironic thing would be the look on your face as you’d been sure you weren’t actually a monster or that you’d ever said anything worthy of an uproar (which it wasn’t, unless published in the context I cited).

    2. Why Vettel?

    3. Why with Vettel?

    4. Why with Vettel?

      1. Yeah. And they were clear cutting trees while they did it!

  2. If Red Bull won’t do a thing about it, others should. Fair enough.

  3. It’s quite remarkable just how many people Marko managed to insult in his remark: Perez, Mexicans, South Americans, Latin Americans, not to mention how it must go down with the many Latino supporters of Perez in the US. It’s like Red Bull and FIA (and Liberty) are slowly realizing the impact.

  4. That’s a lot of people. Wonder how big F1 is there and what the reception to these comments have been like though,

    Also the second letter the FIA have had to send out to redbull personnel in two years. I suppose third if there was one for the cost cap

    1. Difficult to tell how much impact. However all the comments I read on Brazilian sports pages were entirely negative about Marko, saying that he’d apologized to Perez but not to South Americans. And also not very polite about his personal qualities in general. I mean it’s not as though Brazilians can’t just respond to whatever ‘argument’ he might have with one word: Senna. But then Marko’s comments weren’t really about Formula 1 racing drivers, I guess. Just some generic prejudice he carries round with him.

  5. “I have a personal relationship with him,” said Perez. “When you see that sort of stuff knowing the person helps a lot because I know he doesn’t mean it that way. And I took his apology because I know Helmut from the personal relationship that he doesn’t mean it that way.”
    Oh yes he does mean it that way Perez. You’re not part of the master race as Marko is so how would you know? This to me is the worst part that Red Bull have forced Perez to defend Marko now.

    1. It does show the position he’s in is rather precarious.

      It’d have been much better to just decline to answer and talk about the race instead.

      Just because a reporter tries to stir things up doesn’t mean he has to roll with it.

      1. Well, I wouldn’t be surprised if he were in a precarious position, given he hasn’t yet convinced to be back at his early season level, and a big part of his season was horrible. But again, I’m also not sure anyone not from red bull would be ready to do better than him yet.

      2. Unless the threat is being replaced with norris, then it’d make more sense.

  6. His inner Nazi was coming out. Its good the FIA did something to keep him in Check(o), if not he could of carried on in future saying something even worse, you know if he gets his eye in.

  7. We live in a truly clown world. Saudi Arabia, host of FIA sanctioned races, gets away with slavery and murder (Jamal Khashoggi), but apparently few words are much, much worse than that. Petronas, sponsor of Mercedes team, may have commited war crimes in Sudan, but Hamilton and FIA are completely fine with that! It’s Helmut Marko from Red Bull who should have his life ruined. Clown, clown world and the sooner it ends the better.

    1. The problem in that sense is that those affected aren’t represented by the FIA, whereas it’s very easy for one or more American member organizations to urge the relevant FIA bodies to make a statement on this latest round of ethnic prejudice coming out of the Red Bull garage.

      All the more so because the current FIA president has made it an important part of his platform to empower these organizations, especially those outside of the already influential (i.e. European) members.

    2. so the alternative is? it’s okay to call a racist guy a racist. and Saudi Arabia globally whitewashing their human rights crimes. And the UK and US imperialism, and atrocities of despot leaders in Asia and Africa. Don’t conflate individual people with governments though.

  8. The reaction to this is ridiculous. Marko made the exact same statement last year along the lines of Perez is a South American and has fluctuations in form and no one batted an eye. It’s very easy to search that and look at it.

    The irony is most people Complaining about this casually take a piss on Ferrari by calling them out for having an Italian build up in their squad. It’s almost as if people want to find something to slander RB given their success.

    Looking at the overall copium on the internet re F1 this isn’t surprising at all.

    1. People talk about Ferrari not because italians aren’t capable, but because they’re limiting their possibilities hiring only italians for their management positions. After Jean Todt left, all of their team principals are italian. You don’t see them looking at other teams personnel, who might be doing a good job elsewhere that could be a good fit, they always come with their own solutions.

      1. Their current TP is not Italian and was taken from Sauber (Alfa Romeo). Jock Clear is there amongst a number of other nationalities. The comment about Ferrari and some fans Italian critical comments has some traction in my opinion.

        1. oh yeah, i forgot binotto left.
          That’s how i always felt about this. People love to mention that Schumacher brought his trustworthy people from Benetton during his time there, and it worked, not because they were not italian, but because he achieved success with them before.

          1. Yeah, nothing to do with nationality, colour etc just the best individuals who are managed well within a great structure as is the case with RB, Merc before that, then Renault, Ferrari, McLaren etc. I bet Ferrari have many bationalities working for them now but people do stereotype this Italiancentric narrative holds them back, I personally do not buy this.

      2. they’re limiting their possibilities hiring only italians for their management positions

        That was the framing, but men like Loïc Bigois and David Sanchez are French, Jock Clear is English, Rory Byrne is South-African, etc. It’s more true this year, but there hasn’t been an ‘all Italian team’ in a long time.

        It’s also not always a choice. Working for Ferrari means moving to Italy, and a lot of people don’t fancy doing so (for a variety of reasons).

        1. Also James Allison, if it had not been for personal matters for him.

  9. The law really should have nothing to do with what someone believes. Only how someone behaves. If the FIA don’t want their partners saying bigoted stuff, it better be in some sort of binding agreement. And the people who are being silenced should be compensated for keeping shut, and only so far as its not covering up any real crimes. Everyone knows Red Bull has some less politically correct views, but thats really on them and their brand. And I suspect corporate has already communicated with him and the matter is probably put to bed.

  10. Ah, the FIA code of ethics.
    Sportwashing for dictatorships – good.
    Stupid comments by grumpy old man – bad.

    1. That hypocrisy is shared though. Do you check to see where your petrol comes from before you fuel your car? Chances are you’re driving around on Saudi gas.
      In the end, the world is a mess, no one’s moral standard is THE standard, and we should all just try to get along with each other.
      Helmut Marko is a bigoted muppet. His apology changes nothing – it’s a PR release that means exactly zero.

      1. His apology changes nothing – it’s a PR release that means exactly zero.

        Indeed. The time for action, by Marko, was in the seconds before he opened his mouth.
        Repeat ad infinitum.

        Generally, if people can’t think pleasant thoughts, then they should at least make an attempt to keep their thoughts as thoughts only.

  11. @d0senbrot Fair point.

  12. What a moron. Real Germans and Austians would keep those thoughts for themselves.
    But it is quite typical to have those opinions as an older person.

Comments are closed.