RACING driver Sergio Perez has been forced to apologise to the Scottish Formula One star Susie Wolff after making an “unacceptable” joke about female drivers.
In an interview with the Spanish television station Antenna3, the Mexican driver hailed Wolff as a “great driver” before being asked whether he would like a woman driver as a teammate. He laughed and replied: “No… they would be better off in the kitchen.”
On Friday Wolff became the first woman in 22 years to take part in a Grand Prix weekend by driving in first practice ahead of the British Grand Prix.
Wolff’s outing for Williams was unfortunately short-lived, as the 31-year-old was out on track for four laps, with only one timed, before an oil pressure problem forced her to pull the car off the circuit.
Perez was heavily criticised for his comment about Wolff on Twitter and other social media networks.
However, Wolff immediately leapt to his defence, saying the remark was “taken out of context”.
She said she had not taken offence and urged others to lay off Perez.
Taking to Twitter herself, and posting a picture of her and Perez with their arms around one another, Wolff said: “Saw some comments made by @SChecoPerez as I was making dinner in the kitchen last night…?? Please give him a break…
“His comments were taken completely out of context. Anyway, as my family will tell you, I drive better than I cook!??”
Perez, meanwhile, has issued an unreserved apology on Twitter and Instagram before releasing a statement on his official website, where the 24-year-old conceded that his comment, though meant as a joke, was “unacceptable”.
He said: “I feel really ashamed by the way my words have been distorted about the opportunity of racing side by side with a woman.
“I want to be absolutely clear that my intention was not to offend anybody, and my comment does not reflect a “macho” posture on my behalf. I recognise that my comment, even though it was intended as a joke, was absolutely out of place and also unacceptable.
“I believe and I am truly convinced in gender equality; there are women in my life that are very important for me and that show me this every day and my admiration for them is incomparable. With Susie Wolff I hold a very close friendship and I admire her greatly for her determination. I wish her the best of luck as a person and as a professional driver.
“Once again I want to thank everybody and I offer this next race in Silverstone to all the women in my life that have been there for me and that follow my career closely.”
Last Friday Wolff expressed her disappointment at completing just four laps during her Formula One debut at Silverstone.
The Oban-born driver will get another opportunity behind the wheel during practice for the German Grand Prix later this month.
Wolff is one of the most high-profile female drivers in the sport. She rose through the ranks of motorsport, starting off in karting, then moving up to Formula Renault and Formula Three before moving to the DTM to compete for Mercedes-Benz.
In 2012, she was signed by the Williams Formula One team to work as a development driver.
She lives in Switzerland with her husband Toto Wolff, who is executive director of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team.