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Aston Martin Responds to F1 Worker Detailing Accounts of Racist Abuse – Sports Illustrated

The Aston Martin Formula One team shared on Friday that they have “a zero-tolerance policy on discriminatory behaviour of any kind” in wake of former employee Aidan Louw detailing racist and anti-LGBTQ+ abuse by colleagues working at the team in an interview with Sky Sports News.
The 25-year-old worked as a laminator, specifically building parts of cars driven by four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel. In February, Louw joined the F1 team as a supplier’s agency contractor. And he said the abuse started almost immediately.
“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,’” Louw told Sky Sports News.
Louw, who is a dual citizen of South Africa and the United Kingdom, detailed how he was called racist nicknames and received anti-LGBTQ+ abuse. 
“I disclosed to someone that I had a boyfriend in my teen years and that was it—in that split second everything switched,” Louw said to Sky Sports News. “…As soon as they found out about that sliver of information that was it, they were trying to claw me down to break me down as a man, as an individual and a human.”
Aston Martin said in a statement to Sky Sports News that they are “in ongoing discussions with him.” When the team received the complaint, Aston Martin said they “were immediately acted upon and appropriate sanctions were imposed in line with our zero-tolerance policy.”
Aston Martin said Friday that the individuals involved no longer work for them.
In a statement to The Race, Aston Martin confirmed that Louw also no longer works for the supplier, citing that he was “dismissed by the supplier after just five weeks, for poor performance and poor timekeeping.” Louw acknowledged this to Sky Sports but felt the abuse impacted both his performance and timekeeping. 
According to Sky Sports, Louw “has now left the sport,” but he wants to see change. 
“It’s supposed to be a level playing field. It’s supposed to be the one thing that gives everyone the opportunity,” Louw said. “That’s what I was told as a kid. That’s what we’re selling all the kids. That’s what we’re selling the next generation.
“And if it’s a lie, then what’s the point?”
Aston Martin does have diversity and inclusion policy, and Vettel continues to be outspoken about racism and LGBTQ+ inclusivity. But Louw’s interview comes on the heels of racism, anti-LGBTQ+ abuse and harassment making F1 headlines. 
Three-time world champion Nelson Piquet used racist language in reference to Lewis Hamilton in a Nov. 2021 interview. He did issue an apology, but has reportedly been reportedly banned from the F1 paddock
During last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, fans shared accounts of racist, anti-LGBTQ+ and misogynistic abuse directed toward them on social media. F1 released a statement, and security was reportedly increased at the race. Several F1 drivers condemned the behavior and Vettel called for a lifetime ban. 
“I think there should be zero tolerance. If people have a good time and drink too much that’s OK, but it doesn’t justify or excuse wrong behavior. We race as one, so, the fans are a part of that.”
After learning that drunk spectators lifted the dress of one of Hamilton’s fans, Mercedes brought the individual to their garage. Team principal Toto Wolff said Sunday evening, per ESPN, “F— off. If you are part of that category, f— off.”
“We just need to target these guys and pick them out and say ‘you.’ This is what Formula One has said and we have said and that you need to report to the security if you can. And whoever reads my sentence: stay away, we don’t want you if you are part of that group.”
Wolff later added, “I have no other explanation for people abusing—in whatever way, sexist, hedonistic, homophobic or racist—you are just simply brainless. And no alcohol can excuse that.”
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