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Lewis Hamilton distances himself from Mercedes’ Kingspan deal

F1 team receive backlash over partnership with insulation firm involved in Grenfell Tower fire tragedy.

6 December 2021 Georgina Yeomans

Getty Images

  • Hamilton suggests Kingspan logo could be absent from car in Abu Dhabi
  • Toto Wolff wrote letter of apology to Grenfell United
  • Mercedes team principal hints at revaluation of partnership

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has distanced himself from Mercedes AMG’s recent sponsorship deal with insulation firm Kingspan, after the team received backlash for the partnership.

On 1st December, the Formula One team announced a partnership with Kingspan that would see the company’s branding feature on the car for the final two races of the 2021 season in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

However, the deal has faced significant backlash. Kingspan is involved in the ongoing public inquiry into the 2017 Grenfell Tower tragedy, where 72 people lost their lives in a fire that was found to have spread rapidly due to unsafe cladding, some of which was provided by the Irish-based company.

Groups representing victims and survivors of the Grenfell tragedy, as well as the UK’s housing secretary Michael Gove, have all publicly criticised the partnership.

Mercedes Formula One team principal Toto Wolff is to meet with the Grenfell United group after apologising for any distress caused by the sponsorship deal.

In a letter to the survivors and victims group, Wolff apologised for ‘the additional hurt that this announcement has caused’ and said Mercedes AMG had sought clarification from Kingspan over its role in the tragedy before agreeing to the partnership.

‘I know that this does not change in any way the awful tragedy you suffered, or the deep and ongoing pain felt in your community,’ wrote Wolff.

‘I would like to thank Grenfell United for the offer to meet in person for me to learn and understand better. I look forward to coming together as soon as we can.’

Grenfell United responded in a statement: ‘Whilst we appreciate your attempt to understand Kingspan’s actions at Grenfell, we hope you understand that by only asking Kingspan for their account of involvement, you are in essence asking them to mark their own homework; a system which led to Grenfell in the first place.

‘Whilst 72 of our loved ones were killed, 18 of which were children, Kingspan and others have walked away so far unscathed. We urge you to stand with us in our fight for justice, to be the frontrunners in setting the standard in Formula One and the industry, that money does not come before human life.’

Hamilton, Mercedes’ top driver and public face of the team, distanced himself from any involvement in the partnership at a press conference during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

“It is not something that I feel I have to speak about publicly,” he said. “I had nothing to do with the team signing any of the sponsors. Tommy [Hilfiger] was the only one I probably brought to the team.

“It was news to me when I heard the things that have happened this week and I was very aware and watching closely all the families affected by what happened there. We know there has been a huge outcry and an amazing amount of support by people in the community around there.

“It is really nothing to do with me and I know Toto [Wolff] is sorting it.”

Hamilton, who won in Jeddah to draw level in the drivers’ championship ahead of the season’s final race in Abu Dhabi, also suggested that the Kingspan logo could be removed from his car.

“Unfortunately, my name is associated with it because it has been on my car, but whether that remains the same, we will see,” he said.

Wolff has since said that Mercedes could revaluate the deal, saying over the weekend: “We have discussed also 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. And that’s why I don’t want to further comment.”

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