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Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says Helmut Marko's comments about Sergio Perez 'weren't right'

Helmut Marko has apologised to Sergio Perez
Marko and Perez pictured after the Italian Grand Prix

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says offensive comments from Helmut Marko about Sergio Perez "weren't right".

Horner's remarks are the first time any Red Bull representative has commented on its motorsport adviser blaming Perez's inconsistent form on his ethnicity.

Horner said: "I know he regrets what he said. He has apologised. Even at 80 years of age, it is not too late to learn."

Marko issued a public apology for his remarks through Red Bull's Servus television channel last week.

The Austrian had referred to Perez's up-and-down form this season by saying: "We know that he has problems in qualifying, he has fluctuations in form, he is South American and he is just not as completely focused in his head as Max [Verstappen] is or as Sebastian [Vettel]."

It is not the first time Marko has referred to Perez as South American, even though the driver is from Mexico which is geographically in North America.

Horner, who was talking to Sky Sports after first practice at the Singapore Grand Prix, also addressed why Red Bull as a team had not commented on Marko's remarks until now.

"Helmut is not an employee of Red Bull Racing," he said. "That's why we didn't put out a statement. He is part of the wider Red Bull Group and they put that apology out through their Servus TV channel."

Marko's apology came after an intervention from Oliver Mintzlaff, Red Bull's chief executive officer of corporate projects and new investments, BBC Sport has learned.

Following the death of co-owner Dietrich Mateschitz last October, Mintzlaff is the executive responsible for Red Bull's motorsport activities, and therefore the man to whom Marko, as a consultant, is answerable.

The Perez controversy is the first time Marko's line of reporting has become an issue following the death of Mateschitz, who was a close friend of the Austrian.

Horner insisted that Perez had Red Bull's support.

"Checo is a massively popular member of our team," he said. "He's an important member of our team. I pushed hard to sign him. We have a huge following around the world and we take that very seriously and responsibly."

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