SINGAPORE — Sergio Perez has accepted an apology from Helmut Marko after the Red Bull motorsport consultant blamed the Mexican’s poor form this season on Perez’s ethnicity.
“We know that he has problems in qualifying, he has fluctuations in form,” Marko told Red Bull-owned Servus TV after the Italian Grand Prix. “He is South American and he is just not as completely focused in his head as Max [Verstappen] is or as Sebastian [Vettel].”
It was not the first time Marko has referred to Perez as a South American even though the Mexican comes from Guadalajara, which is geographically in North America.
Six days after making the comments, and after receiving a significant amount of criticism on social media, Marko issued a public apology.
“I was trying to make a point that Checo [Perez] has fluctuated in his performance this year, but it was wrong to attribute this to his cultural heritage,” he said in a statement.
Perez said he accepted the apology and had not found the comments offensive.
“I had a private conversation with him,” Perez explained. “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 always have that, 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.
“And I didn’t get offended at all, personally.
“Let’s say if those comments were on a different perspective or so on, I would have taken them differently. To me, it’s just how things are, and I didn’t get them personal.”
However, Perez recognised that the comments could be viewed as offensive.
“Obviously those comments, when you read them in isolation, can be very disrespectful,” he said.
“But like I say, knowing Helmut, having that personal relationship, for me helped me a lot to understand, understand him, and like I say, he gave me a personal apology.
“So like everything, when you have a personal relationship, it’s a lot more important, the personal feeling than the public feeling.