(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko has questioned the “timing” of the recent Nelson Piquet scandal.
Just before Lewis Hamilton’s home British GP at Silverstone recently, video emerged of triple world champion Piquet calling the Mercedes driver an ‘N-word’ pejorative.
It whipped up a firestorm of controversy, including calls for lifetime F1 bans and even criminal prosecutions, which according to Red Bull’s Marko was highly convenient for the seven time world champion and his team.
“I don’t want to defend Piquet, but if you translate the Portuguese correctly, what he said isn’t nearly as blatant,” the 79-year-old told Osterreich newspaper.
“But we know Piquet. Even when he was active, he always made ill-considered statements. The only odd thing is that this interview from last November surfaced a few days before the grand prix in England.”
Marko suspects the Hamilton camp wanted a timely diversion to draw attention away from the British driver’s highly contentious 2021 crash at Silverstone with Max Verstappen, who is dating Nelson Piquet’s daughter, Kelly.
“Apparently, they wanted the previous year’s crash not to be boiled up again,” the Austrian charged. “This timing is no coincidence.”
Meanwhile, Marko backed team boss Christian Horner’s statement that Red Bull’s title battle with Ferrari this year is much smoother than the ultra-intense 2021 head-to-head.
“With Mercedes, everything always becomes political,” he insisted.
But he says the current battle with Ferrari is more enjoyable, with Marko even expressing sympathy with Charles Leclerc following his Paul Ricard crash from the lead.
“We meet on an equal footing in terms of sport,” Marko said of the Red Bull vs Ferrari duel.
“It’s just a shame that Leclerc and Ferrari keep making mistakes in their battles with us.”