Red Bull’s Helmut Marko received both barrels from the Formula 1 Woke shotgun the other week following his comments about Sergio Perez.
Marko implied Checo’s poor performance was down to his South American heritage. Strange, since South America has produced two of the greatest F1 World Champions – Juan Manuel Fangio and Ayrton Senna.
It’s normally Christian Horner’s duty to tamp down the fires that break out following one of the good doctor’s unsanctioned analogies.
However, this time, he had really “windmilled in”, and was on his own. No doubt under the direction of Red Bull’s marketing department, he issued an apology for the “offensive” remark, both directly to Checo who probably said: “Hey, I’m North American anyway but thanks.” And to the wider world via the press but that hasn’t stopped the politically correct juggernaut continuing to plough its way through F1’s social media corridors.
The FIA has also got in on the act by issuing him a written warning. A victim of some unfavourable woke coverage earlier in the year, they understandably want to define their position on the matter quickly.
Although technically, he’s not a team member (he actually works for Red Bull GmBH and not Red Bull Racing) his presence in the Pit Lane infers he is part and parcel of the show. So, it’s understandable why they acted.
As a close and trusted confidant of Red Bull co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz, Marko has been responsible for identifying driving talent for the team. However, he also served as Mateschitz’s eyes and ears in the operation. Christian Horner may be the Team Principal, but the real power and decision-making rests or rested with the 80-year-old. Not an easy role for Horner and I commend him for managing this so well over the years.
The times, they are a changing
However, with Mateschitz now in the great racing track in the sky, the Austrian is somewhat of an anachronism in the whole operation.
It’s not the first time he’s wandered off the ranch recently, and Horner was very clear over the Perez comment that he is neither an employee nor a representative of Red Bull Racing. I don’t know what the arrangement is now between the team and the parent company, but I suspect it may have changed or will be changing following Mateschitz’s death.
Ultimately, he committed the cardinal sin of articulating a racial stereotype and is being rightly called out on it. However, nothing is said when, on social media, he is being referred to as “stereotypically Austrian”.
Either way, maybe it is time for the Good Doctor to hang up his steering wheel and rest on his latest success – Max Verstappen. As a minimum, he should desist from talking to the press without a Red Bull PR-crafted statement.