Red Bull Racing advisor Helmut Marko emailed Mercedes Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton after the Briton hit out at quotes attributed to the Austrian, which later turned out to be fake.
The fake news story claimed Marko was critical of Hamilton’s involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement, which led to Hamilton issuing a statement on social media in which he condemned Marko’s ‘comments’.
But it later turned out that the quotes, attributed to German broadcaster RTL, were made up by a parody Twitter account and picked up by a less than credible website, which has since issued an apology.
When news of the story spread to Red Bull, team boss Christian Horner sent Hamilton a text message which Marko followed up with an email, leading to Hamilton to delete his social media post.
Speaking to Motorsport, Marko said he understood why Hamilton would be annoyed with such comments and why he wouldn’t necessarily take the time to check they were legitimate first.
“He is emotionally very involved,” he said. “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 Marko condemned the website which posted the fake comments, adding: “I didn’t realise what damage something like this could do and how fast it spreads. 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.”