Ahead of Saudi Arabian Grand Prix last week, Mercedes AMG Petronas had announced their new commercial partner: Kingspan.
Soon after the announcement, the German-based team faced public criticism due to the alleged company’s involvement in the 2017 Grenfell Tower disaster, which caused 72 victims.
Kingspan is a building materials company based in Ireland, whose insulation was one of the products used on the outside of the tower, and its role in the tragedy is being probed in public enquiry.
Mercedes’ revelation encountered the strong opposition of the Grenfell United pressure group, made up of survivors and bereaved family members. They wrote to Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff to express their disgust at the Kingspan sponsorship deal.
UK government minister Michael Gove also showed his disapproval and wrote an open letter to Wolff, urging him to reevaluate the deal and warning that the British government could change advertising rules for motorsport, such was its resentment at the situation.
Mercedes’ team principal suggested on Saturday that Mercedes could re-examine its deal with Kingspan, and the team announced on Wednesday, ahead of the Abu Dhabi season finale, that the agreement had been ended by mutual consent.
“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,” the statement from Mercedes reads.
“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.”
The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team and Kingspan today announced that they have mutually agreed to end their partnership with immediate effect. pic.twitter.com/NiQjvX5BIh— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) December 8, 2021
In its own statement, Kingspan expressed that they are “deeply aware of the sensitivities raised in recent days, and so we have jointly agreed that it’s not appropriate to move forward at the current point in time.”
Kingspan also moved to respond to some of the backlashes it faced, saying it "had no role in the Grenfell Tower refurbishment”, and that its insulation UK business is “a core participant in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and fully supports the Inquiry’s important work”.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the wholly unacceptable historical conduct and emails which emerged throughout the course of the Inquiry discovery process,” the statement added.
“We have sincerely apologised for these actions by a small group of employees at our Kingspan Insulation UK business. This in no way reflects Kingspan’s culture or values.”
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