A contractor hired by a supplier to Aston Martin has detailed racist and homophobic language used against him by two colleagues while working in that role earlier this year.
Warning: This article contains details of offensive terms used, which could upset and offend some readers.
A report from Sky News has detailed how Aidan Louw worked as a short-term agency contractor providing services to one of Aston Martin’s suppliers, with the 25-year-old having commenced that role in February.
Louw, who is mixed-race and holds dual citizenship in South Africa and Britain, told Sky: “Before I even walked into my working environment that’s when I was told, ‘look if you’ve got a problem with how we speak here, it’s just how we speak’.”
“I wasn’t referred to as Aidy or anything like that. I was called [racially offensive slurs] – that’s what I was referred to.
“It was towards the end of the duration I had finally processed what was happening.”
Louw also told someone he was working with about a boyfriend he had during his school days, which he then said prompted homophobic abuse which saw the contractors in question “trying to claw me down to break me down as a man, as an individual and a human”.
Aston Martin said “appropriate sanctions” were taken against the two people responsible for the “unacceptable behaviour” that took place, after his “complaints were immediately acted upon” – with the two no longer working for that supplier or having any connection with the Formula 1 team.
We have a zero-tolerance policy on discriminatory behaviour of any kind. We were extremely disappointed that two of our supplier’s contractors had behaved so appallingly. We acted swiftly and applied our zero-tolerance policy. They no longer work for that supplier, therefore. https://t.co/5uOTGZOAGt
— Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team (@AstonMartinF1) July 15, 2022
The team say Louw’s contract was terminated with them for “poor timekeeping” and “poor performance” after just five weeks – unrelated to any of the abuse he suffered while working for them – although Louw, who had also previously worked for Williams, Alpine and McLaren, believes his performance and timekeeping had been affected by the actions of others.
Aston Martin have responded to Louw’s words by saying: “AMF1 and the supplier operate a zero-tolerance policy with regard to racism, homophobia and all types of discrimination.
“We deal with any allegations of such unacceptable behaviour seriously, including thoroughly investigating such claims and sanctioning any individuals who fall short of our standards.
“In this case, Mr Louw was rightly believed, his complaints were immediately acted upon and appropriate sanctions were imposed in line with our and our supplier’s zero-tolerance policy.
“As a result, the individuals involved no longer work for AMF1’s supplier and have no connection whatsoever with AMF1.
“The whole episode is very sad but the right actions were taken throughout, as you would expect from a responsible and diligent company such as AMF1.
“We remain in contact with Mr Louw.”
Louw, who started working in motorsport aged 16, has called for wider action to be taken in Formula 1 to stamp out this kind of behaviour and wanted to speak out “because this message is bigger than me”.
“I don’t want to be viewed as a victim, that’s not who I am but the fact is this [abuse] is not right. It’s not just me that’s the victim, it’s my community, my community is the victim,” he said.
“We’re not asking to be given those opportunities, things to just be dropped on our plate just because of ethnic origin or sexual orientation.
“I’m not asking for that, nobody is asking for that – we are asking for an equal opportunity.
“The fact is I know there are kids out there who have got dreams to do this the same as me…and if it’s a lie, then what’s the point? What is the point? There is no sport. It doesn’t matter how many sponsors chuck money into it.”