(Motorsport-Total.com) – The Mercedes F1 team is facing heavy criticism from Great Britain after a new sponsorship deal. Ahead of the weekend in Saudi Arabia, the World Championship team announced a partnership with building materials company “Kingspan”, and the Irish company’s logo adorns the cars of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas for the first time in Jeddah.
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Mercedes faces heavy criticism in Great Britain
However, in the UK, Kingsspan is the focus of investigations into a tragic fire incident in London in 2017, when a fire broke out in the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in North Kensington, killing more than 70 people.
The facade, which was renovated a few months ago, was identified as a fire accelerator, in which, unlike the original layout and due to the resulting time pressure, Kingspan panels were also used. These materials were found to be highly flammable in tests, but were nonetheless certified as suitable.
Interest group expresses sharp criticism
Grenfell United group, which represents families of victims and survivors, has been highly critical of Mercedes’ collaboration with Kingspan in an open letter to the team. “The announcement of your new partnership with Kingspan this week is truly shocking. Kingspan has played a major role in the pain and suffering we are feeling today,” the newspaper said.
It is claimed that Mercedes will participate in a system through this deal “which puts profit above human life. We therefore urge you to reassure us that you will distance yourself from Kingspan,” the group continues. As for the “cruelty and indifference to human life” they accuse Kingsban of, there must be a “certain amount of public scrutiny.”
Even politics interfere
Even British politicians had already gotten involved in the matter beforehand. Britain’s housing minister, Michael Gove, was disappointed with Mercedes. Like six others, the team is based in England.
Gove wrote on Twitter: “I am extremely disappointed that Mercedes is accepting sponsorship from Kingspan for the front during the Grenfell investigation. I will write to Mercedes and ask them to reconsider this. The Grenfell community deserves better.”
While Grenfell United offered to meet and asked Mercedes to prove “that there are ethics and values in Formula 1 and that actions have consequences”, team boss Toto Wolff has now spoken out as well.
Wolf: The extra pain was never our intention
In a statement distributed on social media, Wolff said the Austrian had apologized for the “extra pain the ad had caused. It was not our intention.” Prior to the partnership, there were in-depth discussions with Kingspan about their role in the tragedy.
“Kingspan stated that they were not involved in the design or construction of the facade system at Grenfell Tower and that a small percentage of their products were, without their knowledge, used to replace part of the system that did not meet building regulations and was unsure,” explains Wolf.
He gratefully accepted the offer to meet Grenfell United. “I look forward to meeting as soon as possible,” Wolff concluded.
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