In an event following a season where Red Bull‘s Checo Perez failed to measure up with his teammate Max Verstappen, Helmut Marko did not sugarcoat his critique of Perez at times. This past week, his critique elevated to assigning blame to Perez’s nationality for some of his struggles in an interview he gave to Red Bull‘s ServusTV.
Marko, candid and unrelenting, noted Perez’s inconsistencies saying, “We know that he has problems in qualifying, he has fluctuations in form.” He shockingly insinuated Perez’s South American heritage as the cause for his lack of focus, saying, “He is South American and he is just not as completely focused in his head as Max (Verstappen) is or as Sebastian (Vettel).”
Marko’s comments came off not just as offensive to Perez and all South Americans, but it also stirred controversy in Mexico, considering the country geographically belongs to North America. Amid increasing rumours about Perez’s future with the team and the growing grievances over Marko’s comments, ServusTV released an apology on behalf of Marko.
The channel’s website carried the statement which read, “I would like to apologise for my offensive remark and want to make it absolutely clear that I do not believe that we can generalise about the people from any country, any race, any ethnicity.” Marko acknowledged his error in connecting Perez’s fluctuating performance to his cultural background.
However, Perez’s standing with the team beyond his contract ending in 2024 is still uncertain. The Mexican driver seeded some hints regarding possible alternatives after the Italian GP. He opined that it was crucial for him to remain where he could contribute to the team’s success.
In a televised comment to DAZN’s Spanish channel, he shared that it was significant “to be in an environment in which I feel like I can contribute.” He went further to hint, “If that place in 2024 isn’t here we have to look for other alternatives. But right now my main focus is being here, winning more races, continuing to win championships with Red Bull.” He concluded his thoughts, stating, “I have a contract until next year, so some time next year we will sit down and talk.”