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Mercedes and Kingspan terminate controversial deal by mutual consent

Mercedes and Kingspan terminate controversial deal by mutual consent

F1 News

Mercedes and Kingspan terminate controversial deal by mutual consent

Mercedes and Kingspan terminate controversial deal by mutual consent

Mercedes has mutually agreed to cancel its controversial sponsorship deal with Irish insulation firm Kingspan.

The announcement comes just a week after Mercedes announced a sustainability partnership with the company, sparking general outrage and cross-parliamentary condemnation given the company's links to the Grenfell Tower disaster.

With a public inquiry ongoing, Kingspan insisted it played no causative role in the fire that killed 72 people on June 14, 2017.

But the backlash against Mercedes was considerable, despite team principal Toto Wolff going on to apologise for the "hurt" caused by the announcement.

Wolff also agreed to meet with members of Grenfell United, a group that consists of survivors, the bereaved and members of the wider community, to further understand their situation.

In a letter to Wolff from Michael Gove, who is Secretary of State of the department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, the British MP expressed "deep disappointment" at Mercedes' decision to accept the deal.

In conclusion, Gove also mentioned seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton.

He wrote: “The achievements of Mercedes and Sir Lewis Hamilton in recent years represent a British success story of which we are all proud.

"I hope you will reconsider this commercial partnership, which threatens to undermine all the good work the company and the sport have done.”

The Kingspan logo, however, still appeared on the cars of Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas across the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend.

In the intervening days, however, the growing outside pressure has resulted in a rethink and the decision to end the reported £4million-per-year arrangement.

A joint statement read: "The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team and Kingspan today announced that they have mutually agreed to end their partnership.

"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.

"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."

While understanding of Mercedes' situation and the need to terminate the deal, Kingspan has issued a strongly worded statement in defence of its position and the role it played in the Grenfell.

Its statement read: "Sustainability and sport are two long-standing passions and commitments at Kingspan.

"When Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team approached us to chair their new Sustainability Working Group, we saw a unique opportunity to bring the two together in a way that would support a sport we love, while bringing sustainability to a world stage.

"We 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.

"Much has been written about this over the past few days, and out of consideration for our customers and all the great people who work for us, we believe we must respond.

"We had no role in the Grenfell Tower refurbishment. However, our Kingspan Insulation UK business is a core participant in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and fully supports the Inquiry’s important work.

"We understand that this is a complex topic, but there are some important facts that we would like to explain:

"We did not make the exterior cladding on Grenfell Tower. The Inquiry itself has stated that "the principal reason” for rapid-fire spread on Grenfell was the Polyethylene cored ACM cladding used on the exterior of the building.

"No facade system using this PE ACM cladding, regardless of the insulation used, would have passed the necessary large-scale system fire test. Our K15 insulation board was misused in this unsafe and non-compliant system.

"We did not supply or recommend K15 to Grenfell Tower. K15 made up approximately 5% of the insulation layer of the façade system. It was substituted without our knowledge.

"We have completed new tests which support the previous fire safety claims of the three historical K15 large-scale system tests which came into question during the Inquiry process.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms the wholly unacceptable historical conduct and emails which emerged throughout the course of the Inquiry discovery process.

"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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