Aston Martin hasn’t been making good headlines lately. Neither Sebastian Vettel nor Lance Stroll managed to enter the Austrian Grand Prix. Apart from the racetrack, too, there were no positive things to report regarding the British Formula 1 team: A Belgian TV analyst described Lance Stroll as autistic and was then suspended. Now the traditional racing team worker is said to be subjected to racist and homophobic abuse on a daily basis. And not from angry fans, but members of their own team.
Racism instead of diversity at the Aston Martin factory
“Even when I started my job, I was told – look, I hope you don’t have a problem with the way we talk here, because that’s how we talk!”. With these words, Aidan Louw, who was born in South Africa, was received by his work colleagues on the very first day. In February 2022 he started his work as a laminator in the composites department. Because of his mixed racial background (South African and British), he faced racial abuse. “I wasn’t nicknamed Aidy or anything,” Louw told Sky News. Instead, he was given offensive nicknames, often including: the N word.
Aidan Louw didn’t just experience racism in his real dream job: “I told my partner I had a boyfriend when I was a teenager. That changed everything.” After that he had to endure homophobic insults all the time. The 25-year-old suffered greatly from this. “When that happened, they tried to break me as a person, an individual and a human being.”
Louw calls for equal opportunities for everyone in Formula 1
Today, the 25-year-old no longer works for Aston Martin. The racing team ended the employment relationship after five weeks. Reason: He did not work properly and did not record his working hours accurately enough. Prior to his work at Aston Martin, the Brit worked at Williams, Alpine and McLaren. He has now left the world of Formula 1 behind.
However, the former Aston Martin employee does not see himself as a victim. “I’m not a victim, it’s my whole community.” Now he has a bigger job: spreading the message. “We demand equal opportunity! There are kids out there who dream of working in Formula 1. Is it for nothing if that’s a lie?”
Aston Martin is responding to claims with a zero-tolerance strategy
Following the allegations, Aston Martin issued a statement: “AMR and its suppliers have a zero tolerance policy for misconduct in the area of racism, homophobia and discrimination of any kind. We take allegations of such unacceptable behavior very seriously and we take strong action against employees who do not meet our standards. In this matter, the allegations are credible, we have proceeded accordingly and we are still in contact with the employee.” According to Sky News, some staff have already been fired as a result of the bullying scandal.
Aston Martin has a policy of increasing diversity and inclusion among its workforce. First and foremost is Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel, who recently had the most varied campaign at Silverstone. “We all need to feel loved and appreciated!” According to Vettel, in 2022 no one should be subjected to such insults. And yet new events occur almost every day, this time even within his own team.