There was a lot of noise in Formula 1 for a couple of days and another scandal, not particularly related to racing, quickly faded away. One of the bosses of Red Bull, 80-year-old Helmut Marko, made strange and somewhat offensive comments about Sergio Pérez and, at the same time, about the residents of Mexico and South America, after which Lewis Hamilton hinted that the Austrian should have been fired. Is the seven-time champion right in his call? What should we do with the elders of Formula 1 who do not want to fit into the new rules of life?
“That’s not what I meant…”
Red Bull Motorsport advisor Helmut Marko has long had a soft spot for one of the team’s drivers, Sergio Perez. He praises when a Mexican performs successfully, but does not forget the criticism when Pérez stumbles. In 2022, Hellmuth said enough for Mexican fans to launch a petition to Formula 1 management asking them to “shut up” Marco, and this petition suddenly began to actively gain signatures in recent days.
The fact is that in an interview with Servus TV after the Italian Grand Prix, Hellmuth said the following: “We know about Pérez’s problems in qualifying, where he is unstable. He’s South American and his head isn’t as focused as Max’s. [Ферстаппена] or Sebastian [Феттеля]”
26 thousand people signed a petition demanding action against Helmut Marko
It stands to reason that everyone was caught up in two things. And if Mexico’s shipment to South America can still be considered an anecdote, then stereotyping the shortcomings of all South Americans and the Mexicans who joined them is unacceptable in these times. In fact, Marco stated that everyone could not concentrate, they were distracted, unfocused.
When a wave of criticism arose, Hellmuth at first did not even understand what he had said wrong. In his new statement, Marco essentially repeated his previous thought: “That’s not what I meant. “I wanted to say that the mentality of Mexicans is different from the mentality of the Germans or the Dutch.”
Only a few hours later, apparently after being yelled at by higher-ups, Marco finally issued a “literate” statement, calling his own words offensive and adding: “I don’t think we have the right to draw general conclusions about people.” from any country, any race and any ethnic group. “I tried to emphasize that Sergio’s performances have changed this year, but it was a mistake to link it to his cultural heritage.”
Sergio Pérez and Helmut Marko
Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images
“It’s not something you can just apologize for and that’s okay.”
Sergio Pérez, despite his status as the main “victim” of the story, as expected, did not cause any scandal. Checo said Marco personally apologized to him, but overall Perez supposedly wasn’t offended at all.
The Mexican’s comments were predictable. And no less predictable was the reaction of Lewis Hamilton, the main fighter for equality in the F1 paddock (we write this without any irony).
The seven-time world champion was surprised that Marco got his way: “What he said was completely unacceptable. When leaders and people in his position make comments like this, it is not good for our progress. It’s not something you can just apologize for and be okay with. I think something more needs to be done. When some team employees, especially drivers, make these types of comments, they are usually removed. Well, or at least the teams issue statements saying that they do not support such statements. “It’s interesting that they haven’t done it yet.”
Here’s how the Bulls treated the young Estonian:
Red Bull suspended Jüri Vips for racial insults
Team boss Christian Horner responded to Hamilton’s comment about Red Bull’s lack of response, citing formal reasons. They say that Marco is not an advisor to the team, but to a company that produces energy drinks and, if so, the F1 team has no direct relationship with the situation.
Well, the International Automobile Federation closed all “official” confrontations. The FIA sent a written warning to Marco, reminding him that, as a public figure, he is obliged to act in accordance with the FIA Code of Ethics. I was generally reprimanded, but without any real fines or suspensions.
So is Hamilton right in his calls and how should F1 react to such statements?
Steiner – about the scandal with Marco: he was surprised that Mexico is in South America!
Why is Marco better than Vips and a NASCAR driver?
First. Even if you don’t like these restrictions, there’s no point in complaining about them. The world will no longer be the same: not only direct insults to anyone, but also supposedly funny stereotypes are a thing of the past. You personally probably won’t be moved at all by stereotypical jokes that all Russians love vodka, but in 2023, statements about the alcoholism of an entire nation become really inappropriate. The same applies to the type of eccentricity and distraction of the inhabitants of South America and to the qualities of any other people.
Second. Despite the above, let us continue to take into account the age of the people and the time in which they were trained. Helmut Marko is from the time when half-naked models walked through the F1 paddock, being groped by the drivers, and the drivers themselves allowed themselves really vivid and even offensive comments about their rivals. It is strange to expect that at 80 an Austrian will suddenly become a completely different person. Of course, he adapts to the times, but some concessions have to be made.
Third. Marco’s inappropriate jokes about Mexicans should still be a little easier than the bad behavior of young pilots who thoughtlessly say the word “black” on Stream or like memes about the murder of George Floyd. After all, Juri Vips and Noah Gregson are a young generation that grew up surrounded by social media and the restrictions that emerged in 2010-2020: the demand for them is greater.
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We repeat: whether you like it or not, times have changed. If the word “black” has become offensive, please be kind enough not to protest against this, but to use expressions that will not offend anyone. If you liked some controversial meme and you are a public figure, try to discuss it only with very close friends and not with the entire Internet.
Going back to Marco’s punishment, it’s great that there was no retaliation. Let’s continue to take into account the age and the fact that in this case the assigned stereotype was not entirely offensive. Let Marco, Bernie Ecclestone and his entire generation quietly continue their work in Formula 1 without the harsher framework we will soon arrive at. Very soon F1 will be “more correct”. Even if it’s more boring.
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