Mercedes F1 team and firm deal clash with fire survivors | Sports News


By DANICA KIRKA, Associated Press

LONDON (AP) – Building materials maker Kingspan has said it has reached an agreement with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 racing team to end a partnership deal after protests from families of people who died in a skyscraper fire in London.

The company said in a statement Wednesday that it was “keenly aware of the sensitivities raised in recent days” by the deal. “So we jointly agreed that it was not appropriate to move forward at this time,” Kingspan said.

Mercedes, in a tweet, confirmed the decision.

The team announced a sponsorship deal last week to allow Kingspan to put its logo on the nose of world champion Lewis Hamilton’s car starting with a weekend race in Saudi Arabia.

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Survivors and family members of the 72 people who died in the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 had asked the team to sever ties with Kingspan. The fire started in a fourth-floor refrigerator and spread through the residential building, which experts say was likely fueled by flammable materials used in an exterior renovation.

Kingspan reiterated on Wednesday that he had nothing to do with the renovation project responsible for the blaze and that he was not responsible for the siding which was one of the focal points of an investigation.

“Our K15 insulation board has been misused in this dangerous and non-compliant system,” the company said in a statement. “We did not provide or recommend the K15 to the Grenfell Tower … It was replaced without our knowledge.”

Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff has apologized to family members after complaining about the deal. He said last week that he hoped to meet the Grenfell Tower survivors as soon as possible.

Criticism of the deal has been particularly difficult for Mercedes, as Hamilton, seven-time world champion from Stevenage, England, has openly declared his support for the Grenfell community. Hamilton is currently in second place in the Formula 1 driver standings with one race to go in the season.

History corrects that there is only one race left in the Formula 1 season, not two.

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