Ahead of the Saudi Arabian GP, Mercedes announced a new sponsorship deal with insulation and building envelope company Kingspan – the company logos appearing on the W12 car.
The move sparked a reaction from survivors and families affected by the Grenfell fire in 2017, which left 72 people dead.
Kingspan’s K15 insulation was one of the products installed on the Grenfell Tower, and the company’s involvement in the disaster has been widely studied.
Grenfell United, a pressure group made up of families of victims and survivors, was the first to speak out on the move and called on Mercedes to cancel the deal.
In an open letter to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, they wrote: “This week’s announcement of your new partnership with Kingspan is truly shocking. Kingspan played a pivotal role in inflicting the pain and suffering we feel today, and there must be some degree of public censure for Kingspan’s recklessness and recklessness for human life.
They added, “By partnering with Kingspan, we believe you are directly involved in this system which puts profit before human life. We therefore seek assurances from you that you will take positive steps to dissociate yourself from Kingspan.
“Grenfell United wants you to share the letter with your shareholders and await your response. We would be happy to facilitate a meeting with you to discuss this further.
“It can’t just be ‘business as usual.’ We hope you can demonstrate that ethics and values exist in F1 and that there are consequences to actions. “
The focus on the Kingspan sponsorship deal intensified when Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Upgrades, Housing and Communities, revealed he would write to Mercedes asking her to review the partnership.
Posting on Twitter, he wrote: “Deeply disappointed that @ MercedesAMGF1 is accepting sponsorship from coating company Kingspan while the Grenfell investigation is ongoing. I will write to Mercedes asking them to reconsider. The Grenfell community deserves better.
Mercedes is aware of the criticism it has faced and, although it has not offered to cancel the sponsorship deal, Wolff said he would be happy to hear more about the impact of the disaster. by Grenfell United.
In a letter posted to Mercedes social media, Wolff wrote: “The Grenfell Tower fire tragedy was beyond imaginable to me, and it never should have happened.
“On behalf of our team, I sincerely apologize for the additional harm this announcement has caused. It was never our intention to do so.
“The work of the public inquiry to establish all the causes of the tragedy is of crucial importance. Before entering into our partnership, we engaged with Kingspan in depth to understand what role their products played in what happened at Grenfell.
Kingspan stated that they had no role in the design or construction of the Grenfell Tower coating system and that a small percentage of their product was unwittingly used as a substitute in a part of the system that was not not in accordance with building regulations. and was dangerous.
“I know this does not change the terrible tragedy you have suffered, or the deep and continuing pain felt in your community, and I want to thank Grenfell United for the offer to meet me in person to learn and understand better.
“I look forward to getting together as soon as we can.”