Lewis Hamilton called out Helmut Marko over comments that refer to Sergio Perez’s Mexican heritage and form this season.
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton labelled Red Bull boss Helmut Marko’s recent remarks about Sergio Perez’s ethnicity “completely unacceptable” in a statement ahead of this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix.
After Perez finished second to Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen in the Italian Grand Prix earlier this month, Marko made a reference to the Mexican background of the only Mexican driver on the Formula 1 grid when talking about the driver’s inconsistent performance this year.
Many people found the remarks disrespectful, especially because they put forward racial slurs regarding Perez’s ethnicity while mentioning his performance.
Marko claimed after the Italian Grand Prix that Perez’s “performance fluctuations” might be related to his Mexican ethnicity: “Let’s remember that he (Perez) is South American and so he is not as focused as Max Verstappen or Sebastien Vettel was.”
An online uproar was quickly triggered by Marko’s remarks which triggered the Red Bull advisor to later offer an apology saying: “I 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.
“I was trying to make a point that Checo has fluctuated in his performance this year, but it was wrong to attribute this to his cultural heritage.”
However, Marko was said to have originally justified his remarks.
“It wasn’t meant that way,” Marko previously stated. “I meant that a Mexican has a different mentality than a German or a Dutchman.
“But who knows, maybe it’s controlled.”
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton insisted that the comments were “completely unacceptable” despite Marko later apologizing to Perez both publicly and privately.
“It’s completely unacceptable what he said,” Hamilton stated. “This is not something you just apologise for and it is all okay.
“Whilst we say there is no room for any type of discrimination in this sport, and there should be no room for it, to have leaders and people in his position making comments like this is not good for us moving forward.
“There are a lot of people in the background that really are combating these kind of things, but it is hard to manoeuvre if people at the top have mindsets which stop us from progressing.
“But it is not my team and not how we move as a team.
“We still have a lot of work to do to make this a more inclusive environment.”
The Mercedes driver has actively advocated for more diversity in Formula 1.
In recent years, Formula 1 has made efforts aimed at promoting inclusion in the sport. After the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, the We Race As One program was launched. However, there hasn’t been much official response against Marko’s remarks.
Hamilton found it “interesting” that Red Bull didn’t appear to take any action against Marko.
Perez also addressed the media in Singapore, disclosing that Marko had directly apologized for his remarks after releasing a formal public apology.
“I got an apology from him, a direct apology, which to me was the most important one,” said Perez.
The Mexican added that he was eager to “move on” and Marko had expressed his desire to offer an apology.
“I know him, and I know that he doesn’t mean it that way as well,” the Red Bull driver added. “That to me is what matters.
“When you have a personal relationship with someone, it’s a feeling that you’ve got to have and to me that’s the most important one.”
The most crucial thing, according to Perez, is that the squad concentrates on this weekend and keeps its performance on track.
Sky Sports said that Red Bull stated they “in no way condone these sentiments” following the incident. The team additionally stated that they “want to distance themselves from the remarks”.
It is unknown if Helmut Marko has been reprimanded in any way for what he said about Perez.