Sergio Perez says he has accepted an apology from Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko regarding remarks made about his ethnicity.
Earlier in the week, Marko was heavily criticised after attributing Perez’s fluctuating performance throughout the 2023 Formula 1 season to the country of his birthplace.
“Let’s remember that he is South American, and so he is not as focused as Max Verstappen or Sebastian Vettel was,” the Austrian told ServusTV.
Having already issued his regret at the “offensive remark” through a statement released on live television, Perez has now revealed that Marko approached him to apologise directly for the incident.
“Yeah, I had a private conversation with him. He did apologize and that to me was the main thing,” Perez disclosed ahead of this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix.
“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.”
Perez has previously spoken out on his belief that Latin F1 drivers regularly receive “more criticism” than their European counterparts.
Although the Mexican acknowledges that the comments could add to that theory, he asserts that his personal relationship with Marko is behind his altered viewpoint.
“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, I mean, 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,” Perez explained.
“Anyway, we have a good relationship, and I know that it’s not related to that side.”
Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing with Dr Helmut Marko (AUT) Red Bull Motorsport Consultant. 18.06.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, Race Day.
While Perez contends that he didn’t take offence from Marko’s thinking, he can understand why fans from his native Mexico reacted strongly to the claims.
“Yeah, obviously those comments, when you read them in isolation, can be very disrespectful,” he accepted. “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.”
The 33-year-old has also ruled out that Marko’s criticism would prompt him to consider leaving Red Bull before the expiry of his contract at the end of next year.
Pressed on whether he was contemplating leaving the reigning World Champions, Perez replied: “No, I’m staying.
He added: “For me, I’m staying here for another year, and then we will see, is how I see things. We want to get through this year as competitively as possible, start next year, and I think early next year, we will have a clearer picture on what the team wants to do and what I want to do.”
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