Max Verstappen, 23 years old, had called the Racing Point driver “Mongol” on the radio during the free practice last Friday in Portugal. The Mongol Identity Association and an emissary of the Foreign Minister of Mongolia want explanations. And Helmut Marko did not take it well either.
The cause of everything was the contact with Lance Stroll at the bottom of the straight during the second practice session of the Portimao race last Friday, valid for the Formula One Championship. The maneuver of the Racing Point driver may have been questionable and it ended up colliding with Max Verstappen which was performing a qualifying simulation.
Max’s reaction was rather vehement. “Is this f****** guy blind?,” Verstappen began. “What the f*** is wrong with him? Jesus Christ”. Until here, it is not that elegant to be honest, but it’s something we are used to during a race and all drivers curse at each other. However, the following part created the controversy. “What a retard,” Verstappen continued. “I have damage. What a mongol. I swear.”
Yep, “What a mongol”, he shouted on the radio. And this is where the problem is. Yesterday came a very harsh reaction of the Mongol Identity Association. It is an open letter to Verstappen himself in which he is asked peremptorily to apologize. Mongol Identity is a charity based in Scotland, chaired by Uugana Ramsey.
In his communication we read: “We wish to express our disapproval and at the same time our concern to see the term ‘Mongol’ used in a derogatory manner. We are also quite shocked by the fact that F1 has not taken any action and we are directly addressing the top of this competition. Since 1965 the WHO has clearly established that the term ‘Mongoloid’ could not be associated with those suffering from Down’s Syndrome as offensive to those with Mongolian nationality. We ask Verstappen for a public apology and greater sensitivity towards those who suffer. We kindly ask that the term ‘Mongolian’ be used correctly while respecting its originality and authenticity”.
However, the controversy does not end here since Verstappen doubled down. When asked what he thought about the fact that the message had been made public, and that someone might feel offended, Verstappen replied: “It’s not my problem”. Which must have infuriated Unro Janchiv, head of culture at the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who tweeted: “Not your problem? But did Red Bull let him know that the team supports #WeRaceAsOne ?”.
Because in fact there is also this to add: that the episode happens in the year in which more than ever Formula 1 has committed itself against racism, with the campaign wanted by Lewis Hamilton. Verstappen wore t-shirts to support the initiative, even if he always refused to kneel down, as also Charles Leclerc, Kimi Raikkonen, Antonio Giovinazzi, Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz. “I am very committed to equality and the fight against racism,” he tweeted in the most intense days of the campaign. “But I believe that everyone has the right to express themselves at a time and in a way that suits them best.
Helmut Marko, Red Bull‘s Plenipotentiary Adviser, was tougher on Verstappen saying: “I told Verstappen that such incidents should not happen again in the future. He was wrong in every way”. Let’s see.