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Mercedes end £3m sponsorship deal with Kingspan amid outrage from Grenfell Tower victims

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 08/12/2021 Ben Rumsby
Mercedes poised to end sponsorship deal with Kingspan amid Grenfell Tower outrage at £3m deal - GETTY IMAGES © GETTY IMAGES Mercedes poised to end sponsorship deal with Kingspan amid Grenfell Tower outrage at £3m deal - GETTY IMAGES

Sir Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team have scrapped their £3million-a-year sponsorship deal with Kingspan following major backlash from victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

The Formula 1 giants announced the lucrative “sustainability” partnership with the Irish insulation firm last week, with the latter’s logo appearing on Hamilton’s Mercedes W12 at Sunday’s Saudi Arabia Grand Prix.

But the team announced the termination of the deal on Wednesday by mutual consent, meaning the branding will not appear at this weekend’s season finale in Abu Dhabi.

A joint statement read: "The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team and Kingspan today announced that they have mutually agreed to end their partnership. Announced last week, the new partnership included Kingspan chairing a new Sustainability Working Group for the team, and aimed to deliver carbon reductions through their leading-edge environmentally sustainable solutions for the team's future campus. 

"However, both parties have subsequently concluded that it is not appropriate for the partnership to move forward at the current point in time, notwithstanding its intended positive impact, and we have therefore agreed that it will be discontinued with immediate effect."

Hamilton attempted to distance himself from the sponsorship deal last weekend, saying: “It is really nothing to do with me.”

Team principal Toto Wolff apologised to Grenfell survivors and bereaved relatives before last weekend’s GP for any distress caused and spoke to several of them personally this week.

That was after both Grenfell United and Michael Gove, the Communities Secretary both wrote to Wolff and Mercedes condemning the Kingspan tie-up.

The ongoing public inquiry into the disaster has heard that prior to the 2017 tragedy, in which 72 people perished, Kingspan changed the composition of its plastic foam boards, some of which, which were used in the tower. The inquiry heard tests showed the new boards burned “like a raging inferno”.

The survivors’ group Grenfell United said in an open letter to Wolff: “Kingspan played a central role in inflicting the pain and suffering that we feel today, and there must be a degree of public censure for Kingspan’s recklessness and carelessness for human life.”

The group went on to allege that the company was “focused solely on profit with a total disregard for human life”.

Posting on Twitter, Gove, said: “Deeply disappointed that [MercedesAMGF1] are accepting sponsorship from cladding firm Kingspan while the Grenfell Inquiry is ongoing. I will be writing to Mercedes to ask them to reconsider. The Grenfell community deserves better.”

Hamilton, a seven-time Formula 1 world champion, himself has previously expressed support for all those who suffered in the disaster.

He took to his Instagram account three years to the day after the incident to say: “Remembering the 72 souls we lost and their loved ones, and everyone affected by this tragedy.”

Plastic-filled aluminum cladding panels made by a different company, Arconic, were the main cause of the rapid spread of the Grenfell Tower fire but the inquiry heard the Kingspan boards “contributed to the rate and extent” of the flames. 

A spokesman for Kingspan said the disaster “should never have happened”.

He added: "Kingspan played no role in the design of the cladding system used on Grenfell Tower, where its K15 product constituted approximately five per cent of the insulation purchased for use. It was used as a substitute product without Kingspan’s knowledge in a system that was not compliant with the buildings regulations."

A spokesman for Mercedes stressed that drivers were not involved in sponsorship decisions, and said: “Our partner Kingspan has supported, and continues to support, the vitally important work of the inquiry to determine what went wrong and why in the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Our new partnership announced this week is centred on sustainability, and will support us in achieving our targets in this area.”

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