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Mercedes’ Kingspan partnership fuels outrage

2 mins read

The Grenfell Tower survivors have criticised the F1 team for their latest partnership.

 

Formula One team Mercedes‘ recent sponsorship deal with cladding firm Kingspan has stirred up a lot of debates.

Earlier at the start of December, the defending world champions announced their latest partnership with Kingspan, one of the global leaders in high-performance insulation and building envelope solutions.

Kingspan is set to chair a Sustainability Working Group for the German team. The Irish firm’s logo also appears on the Mercedes W12 cars, which are driven by Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

 

Mercedes Team Principal, Toto Wolff, had commented on the partnership, stating:

We are delighted to welcome Kingspan to our team both as a Team Partner and to chair our new Sustainability Working Group. To find a company whose ambitions to deliver carbon reduction and sustainable solutions in their industry that match our own so exactly is a real opportunity for both partners. We are making good progress in transforming our company to operate more sustainably but the ability to share expertise, resources and inspiration with Kingspan through our new Sustainability Working Group will really help to accelerate change and awareness within our team, and hopefully our sport.

 

It was Kingspan that had made part of the insulation cladding that was used on the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower, where a terrible fire broke out in June 2017, killing 72 people.

The Grenfell United group, who have continued to criticise Kingspan since then, also sent out an open letter to Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff, asking Mercedes to reconsider their partnership.

 

The letter stated:

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.

 

A public inquiry into the disaster showed that the plastic foam boards, which were changed by Kingspan, burned ‘like a raging inferno’. The inquiry also found that Kingspan had used an old pass result from 2005 to continue selling its cladding for use on high-rise buildings, with multiple safety concerns ignored.

Lewis Hamilton himself has shown support for the Grenfell community. He even posted a message for the survivors and the family of those affected.

 

Hamilton had stated on the third anniversary of the tragedy:

Today marks three years since the horrific Grenfell Tower fire in London. Remembering the 72 souls we lost and their loved ones, and everyone affected by this tragedy. #justiceforgrenfell.

 

UK Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary, Michael Gove, also spoke about his disappointment about Mercedes’ partnership. He tweeted:

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.

 

Mercedes, though, have been certain about their partnership, stating:

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.

 

Kingspan spoke about the tragedy and partnership with Mercedes moving ahead, with a spokesperson from the firm stating:

The Grenfell Tower fire was a tragedy that should never have happened, and Kingspan supports the vitally important work of the inquiry to determine what went wrong and why.

Kingspan played no role in the design of the cladding system on Grenfell Tower, where its K15 product constituted approximately 5% of the insulation and was used as a substitute product without Kingspan’s knowledge in a system that was not compliant with the building regulations.

The new partnership with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 team reflects the ambitious sustainability targets of both organisations.

 

Meanwhile, Hamilton continues his bid for a record eighth world title with this weekend’s race in Saudi Arabia. The seven-time World Champion has also been vocal about the issues of racism and LGBTQ+ rights in the country, with the Brit stating that he was uncomfortable racing in a country with ‘terrifying human rights law’. He hasn’t yet spoken about the Kingspan sponsorship issue, though.

 

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