Ahead of the Saudi Arabian GP Mercedes announced a new sponsorship agreement with Kingspan that caused grave disquiet. The Irish company supplied part of the insulation cladding that covered the west London block of flats that caught fire in 2017.
72 people lost their lives in the flames that spread through Grenfell Tower facilitated by the flammable materials of the covering and Grenfell United, representing survivors has written to Mercedes’ Team Principal and CEO Toto Wolff demanding the termination of this "truly shocking" partnership.
This news has shattered us. @KingspanIP_UK is rotten to the core 'little better than crooks & killers'. No remorse, or responsibility for the murder of our 72. Only greed & recklessness for human life.— Grenfell United (@GrenfellUnited) December 2, 2021
👇Our letter to @MercedesAMGF1 urging them to cut their ties with Kingspan. pic.twitter.com/FsLzCVsoYg
Wolff has responded apologising for the “additional hurt” the announcement has caused and explained that the Brackley team “engaged with Kingspan in depth” before signing the deal and was assured their products “played no role” in the disaster.
However, there is an ongoing public inquiry in which Kingspan is involved for ignoring safety concerns over the cladding.
A letter from Toto Wolff to Grenfell United. pic.twitter.com/OcczmEP4yA— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) December 3, 2021
"There are so many questions," Wolff said when asked about the sponsorship during a session with medias including MotorLat.
"At that stage, what I've said in my letter is that I apologise for the pain that was caused by this announcement. There's certainly a lot of learning for me, personally, and for the team.”
Lewis Hamilton has talked in support of the families affected and didn’t seem pleased of having Kingspan’s logo on the nose of his W12 in Jeddah, explaining the team is sorting the matter out.
During the session Wolff assured it’s being looked at “with a matter of urgency" by Mercedes, hinting they are in talks with the company to re-evaluate the deal.
"What I want to say is that we've initiated a dialogue with some of the community of the bereaved families and survivors of the Grenfell tragedy to just better understand the pain that's caused - that process is just beginning, but we would like to wish for privacy while that's ongoing,” he said.
"As I said, we are discussing that with the important people and we will reach out to Kingspan and come up with the right solution. There is a contractual agreement that's behind these things and we want to just do the right thing with integrity. That's why I don't want to further comment at this stage."
But is it something the Team Principal regrets signing?
"We all develop and learn in our lives and this is clearly a situation that will make me improve in the future. And my assessment, my decision-making, and... full stop. Everything I say more just puts me in a situation,” he concluded.