Helmut Marko and Lewis Hamilton have defused the tension brought about by a quote wrongly attributed to the former, the Austrian insisting the issue had been dealt with “in good faith”.
An angry Hamilton took aim at Marko in an Instagram post on Wednesday, urging the Red Bull motorsport boss to “wake up” to racism after an alleged comment made by Marko to German broadcaster RTL and echoed by a sports website suggested that the Mercedes drivers’ activism against racial injustice was “a distraction”.
However, it eventually became clear that Marko never made such a derogatory comment, with the website admitting that it had pulled the fake quote off a Twitter parody account!
Website admits Marko comment that incensed Hamilton was fake!
Marko was made aware of the controversy when he was contacted by Red Bull’s press officer who was seeking clarification on the comment supposedly made to RTL in an interview dated June 5.
“She asked me what I really said in the interview,” Marko told Motorsport.com. “I didn’t even know what she was talking about. That’s when it all started. It completely caught me by surprise.”
Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner touched base with Hamilton while Marko later communicated with the six-time world champion through email.
The Austrian was mum on the content of the exchange but insisted both parties had dealt with the issue “in good faith”.
In retrospect, Marko said Hamilton’s initial reaction was understandable given his sensitivity to the subject.
“He is emotionally very involved,” added Marko. “As a racing driver, he is not obliged to do research whether this is true or not. In that respect, his reaction is understandable to me.”
However, the Austrian was less forgiving of the specific website’s action of pouncing on the piece of fake news.
“I didn’t realize what damage something like this could do and how fast it spreads,” he said.
“You can take this as an example of how an overly hysterical view is not helpful in the bigger picture.
“Thank God most journalists research what is really going on. RTL told me that they were bombarded with requests for four hours. And when it was clear that this was fake news, hardly anyone wrote anything about it.”
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