F1 worker suffered racist and homophobic abuse at Aston Martin

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Formula 1 worker Aidan Louw has told Sky News he suffered racist and homophobic abuse while working at Aston Martin. (Warning: the video contains content that may be upsetting, offensive and triggering for some users)

Formula 1 worker Aidan Louw has told Sky News he suffered racist and homophobic abuse while working at Aston Martin. (Warning: the video contains content that may be upsetting, offensive and triggering for some users)

A Formula 1 worker who has repeatedly suffered racist abuse from Aston Martin F1 team colleagues has told Sky News the sport needs to do more to tackle racism in motorsport.

Aidan Louw, 25, mixed race and born in South Africa, worked as a laminator, building parts for the cars driven by Sebastian Vettel at the F1 team’s prestigious base near Silverstone.

The verbal abuse began after he joined the team as a contractor from a vendor agency in February.

“Even before I entered my work environment, I was told, ‘Listen, if you have a problem with the way we talk here, it’s just the way we talk’.”

Mr Louw claims the abuse then began almost immediately with multiple offensive racist nicknames.

“They didn’t call me Aidy…or anything like that. They called me [racially offensive slurs] – that’s what I was referred to.”

“It was towards the end of the duration that I finally processed what was going on.

As a dual citizen of South Africa and the UK, Aidan holds two passports. He says the abuse included an apartheid-era slur that is also hugely offensive.

In addition to racism, Aidan has also experienced homophobic abuse: “I told someone I had a boyfriend as a teenager and that was it – in that split second, everything changed. .

“As soon as they discovered this information, they tried to dismantle me to break me down as a man, as an individual and as a human.”

While Formula 1 has very publicly demanded an end to racism in the sport, this season Sir Lewis Hamilton has been forced to continue speaking out against incidents of discrimination.

The seven-time world champion has been angered by a racial slur that former F1 driver Nelson Piquet was accused of using during a podcast.

Last month, Red Bull reserve driver Juri Vips was fired after posting racist messages online.

At last Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix, some fans said they suffered racist abuse in the stands – there were also reports of sexist and homophobic behavior from a small number of F1 supporters .

Aston Martin F1 said Aidan’s contract was terminated due to “poor performance” and “poor timing” and was unrelated to the discrimination he suffered.

Mr Louw accepts that his performance and punctuality suffered, but he believes it was due to the abuse he faced.

In a statement to Sky News, Aston Martin Racing said: “AMR and its supplier operate a zero tolerance policy towards racism, homophobia and all types of discrimination.

“We treat any allegations of this unacceptable behavior seriously, including thoroughly investigating these allegations and disciplining anyone who fails to meet our standards.

“In this case, the complainant was rightly believed, his complaints were immediately addressed and appropriate sanctions were imposed in accordance with our zero tolerance policy.

“We are in ongoing discussion with him.”

Sky News understands that those involved in racist and homophobic abuse no longer work there.

Aidan was 16 when he started out in motorsport as a cleaner picking up beer cups and cleaning toilets on the Silverstone track.

He then worked his way up the F1 supply chain before joining Formula 1 team Williams, Alpine and then McLaren – he says he loved working at all three of those teams.

“Up until now I honestly felt like that was all I was supposed to do,” he said, “I felt like that was all I was supposed to do. really had – a purpose.

“I don’t want to be seen as a victim, that’s not who I am but the fact is [abuse] is not fair, it is not just me who is the victim, it is my community, my community is the victim.

“We’re not asking to have 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? 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 am ready to accept because this message is bigger than me,” he added.

Sky Sports News has contacted Formula 1, which declined to comment as dialogue continues between Mr Louw and Aston Martin.

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