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Formula 1 PR rep claims he was fired over pro-gay tweet

Formula 1 PR rep claims he was fired over pro-gay tweet

A former auto racing marketing rep has claimed he was fired over a pro-gay tweet.

Stephane Samson says in February, right before the start of the Sochi Olympics, he sent out a tweet that led to his firing a month later.

‘Ahead of the opening ceremony, we would like to wish all athletes a successful 2014 Olympic Winter Games,’ the Lotus F1 Team Facebook and Twitter page said, accompanied with a picture of two men kissing.

In a series of posts tweeted over the weekend, the former brand manager for the Lotus Formula 1 racing team said:

‘Just been told I was sacked because of my supporting tweet towards gay athletes at Sochi. Lotus=Putin. Please retweet. People must know,’ he said.

‘So many people asked for it… This is why is was sacked from my position as Group Brand Driector at Lotus.’

In February, the BBC reported the tweet upset top management and shareholders. Investment group Genii Capital – a multi-billion dollar company with significant interests in Russia, owns the team.

On social media, some have attacked Samson for ‘crossing the line’. Some have accused him of making a political statement – which is banned in Formula 1 – or posting something ‘wrong’, ‘too sexual’ or ‘gross’.

But others pointed out the Lotus F1 social media page was known for its acerbic wit and jokey style, as Jalopnik points out. Other sexual pictures, like two squirrels having sex, had been posted on Facebook and Twitter without apparent repercussion.

This morning (16 June), Samson inferred lawyers have been in contact with him and told him to remove the posts.

He said: ‘Sorry guys, some tweets had to disappear… once again!’

It’s impossible to independently verify whether these postings had any influence over his departure from the company and it would therefore be wrong to infer if Lotus did anything wrong without more evidence. It may be as a parting member of staff, his recounting of events may not be reliable.

Therefore, GSN has contacted Lotus and is awaiting a response.