The Aston Martin Formula 1 team says what it calls ‘appropriate sanctions’ have been taken against individuals involved in racist and homophobic abuse of an agency employee who worked for the one of the team’s suppliers.
Although the exact nature of the penalties has not been disclosed, Aston Martin said the perpetrators also worked for this supplier, but no longer do so and have no further connection with the team.
Adrian Louw, who is of mixed race and holds dual British/South African nationality, publicly revealed the abuse in an interview with Sky News published today.
He was a composite laminator for the supplier, working there for five weeks from February this year.
“Before I even entered my work environment, that’s when I was told ‘look if you have a problem with the way we talk here, it’s just the way we let’s talk,'” Louw told Sky Sports News.
“The main aggressor came out and the first nickname was *******, that’s where it started. And it went from ******* to ***** **, they didn’t call me Aidy or anything like that, no, they called me *******, and ** *****.”
Louw was also the victim of homophobic abuse after revealing he once had a boyfriend.
“I revealed to someone that I had a boyfriend as a teenager and that was it, it was done. In that split second, everything changed.
“They took it all bit by bit, they tried to break me down as a man, as an individual, as a human.”
A statement released by Aston Martin to The Race, which referred to Louw as ‘Mr A’, said: ‘AMF1 and the supplier operate a zero tolerance policy towards racism, homophobia and all types of discrimination.
“We treat any allegations of unacceptable behavior seriously, including thoroughly investigating such allegations and disciplining anyone who fails to meet our standards.
“In this case, Mr A was rightly believed, his complaints were immediately addressed and appropriate sanctions were imposed in accordance with our zero tolerance policy and that of our supplier.
“As a result, the individuals concerned no longer work for the AMF1 supplier and have no connection 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 like AMF1.
“We remain in contact with Mr. A.”
Aston Martin has also confirmed that Louw no longer works for the supplier.
He said he was “terminated by the supplier after just five weeks, for poor performance and poor timeliness”.
Aston Martin has a diversity and inclusion policy in place, while driver Sebastian Vettel has been a strong advocate for LQBTQ+ inclusivity in recent years.
Formula 1 also has its own diversity and inclusion policy and in 2020 launched the catch-all “We Race As One” initiative focusing on diversity and inclusivity. Lewis Hamilton was a powerful voice and actively worked to promote anti-racism and diversity.
However, the F1 world has been embroiled in a series of controversies, most recently with three-time world champion Nelson Piquet revealed to have used a racial slur in reference to Hamilton.
According to Sky Sports News, Louw “has now left the sport”. But he is keen to see change, describing his message as “bigger than me”.
“I don’t want to be seen as a victim, that’s not who I am but the fact is [abuse] It’s not correct. It’s not just me who’s the victim, it’s my community,” he said.
“We’re not asking to be given these opportunities, things to drop off our plate just because of ethnicity or sexual orientation.
“I’m not asking that, nobody’s asking – we’re asking for equal opportunities. The thing is, I know there are kids out there who dream of doing the same thing as me…and if that’s a lie, then what’s the point?
“There is no sport. It doesn’t matter how many sponsors pour money into it.
“Whatever the repercussions, publicly for me, I’m ready to accept because this message is bigger than me.”