SINGAPORE, Sept 15 (Reuters) – Formula One’s governing body issued a written warning to Red Bull’s motorsport adviser Helmut Marko on Friday after the Austrian blamed the patchy form of the team’s Mexican driver Sergio Perez on his ethnicity.
Marko, 80, apologised last week after referring to Perez as a “South American” who was less focused than dominant Red Bull team mate Max Verstappen or the team’s now-retired champion Sebastian Vettel.
“We can confirm that Helmut Marko has received a written warning and been reminded of his responsibilities as a public figure in motor sport in line with the FIA Code of Ethics,” said an FIA spokesman at the Singapore Grand Prix.
Perez said on Thursday he had accepted a personal apology from Marko, whose comments continued to provoke a strong reaction in the paddock.
It was not the first time Marko had referred to Perez as a South American, although the Mexican comes from Guadalajara which is geographically in North America.
“We laugh about (Mexico being in) South America … but it’s a topic that’s not at all funny,” Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff told reporters.
“Its not only what has been said but the mindset that you can even come up with these things, and that hasn’t got any place in Formula One. That’s not something that should have been said in the past and certainly not now.”
His comments echoed strong criticism from Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton who on Thursday had said Marko’s words were “not something that you just apologise (for) and its all OK”.
Marko’s comments had made headlines in Mexico and across the internet.
“It was not a great comment. I can understand why people were offended by it,” said McLaren team boss Zak Brown.
Perez joined Red Bull in 2021 with the team looking for a solid team mate to support Dutch driver Verstappen, who is now heading for his third world title.
The Mexican has won six races, two of them this season, and has a contract for 2024.
“I’m Italian so I know that sometimes we have been facing the same comments,” said Alfa Romeo’s Alessandro Alunni Bravi.
“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 One at any level.”
Additional reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ken Ferris