Sergio Perez says he accepted Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko’s apology to him for comments he made that related to his Latin American heritage.
Marko (pictured above with Perez) was speaking on Servus TV after the Italian Grand Prix and said of Perez: “We know that he has problems in qualifying, he has fluctuations in form — he is South American and he is just not as completely focused in his head as Max (Verstappen) is or as Sebastian (Vettel).”
The comments were then further compounded, with Reuters quoting Marko as telling Austria’s OE24 website: “It wasn’t meant that way. I meant that a Mexican has a different mentality than a German or a Dutchman. But who knows, maybe it’s controlled.”
Marko issued a statement apologizing over the weekend and Perez says he has spoken to the 80-year-old, and that there are no lingering issues between the two.
“I had a private conversation with him,” Perez said. “He did apologize and that to me was the main thing. Yeah, basically we move on. I have a personal relationship with him, and I think you can always have those feelings, when you see that sort of stuff. Knowing the person helps a lot because I know he doesn’t mean it that way. I took his apology, because I know Helmut from the personal relationship that we have, that he doesn’t mean it that way.”
When it was put to Perez that there have been previous concerns about anti-Latin driver treatment raised by himself and Fernando Alonso, the Mexican insisted he didn’t feel that was the case with Marko’s latest statements.
“If I were to look at those comments, I would feel like that, but knowing Helmut, because I have a personal relationship with him, it didn’t sound to me (like that). To be honest, we have a personal relationship, so whatever I say to the media or he says to the media is different to the conversations we have. Anyway, we have a good relationship and I know that it’s not related to that side.
“Helmut did apologize. I think we all make mistakes, and to me what was most important is that I take his apology, his personal apology. What happens afterwards and on the media side, or in the public eye, that’s not in my control. To me the most important thing is the personal relationship.”
Perez wasn’t the only Red Bull driver asked about inflammatory comments, as Verstappen’s record run of victories was dismissed as “for Wikipedia and nobody reads that anyway” by Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.
“I’m not disappointed in that, but they had a pretty s**t race, so probably he was still pissed off with their performance,” Verstappen said. “He almost sounds like he’s an employee of our team sometimes, you know? But luckily not.
“I think it’s important that you focus on your own team. We do and that’s what we did in the past as well when we were behind them and they were dominating. I think you should be able to appreciate when a team is doing really well, which I think we have done in the past because it worked also as inspiration to see someone that dominant — it was very impressive at the time.
“We knew that we had to work harder and try to be better, and now that we are there we are very happy and we are enjoying the moment. Honestly, that’s all I can say about it.”