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Lewis Hamilton says he had 'nothing' to do with Mercedes deal with Grenfell firm
5 December 2021, 08:57 | Updated: 5 December 2021, 09:06
Sir Lewis Hamilton has said he had "nothing" to do with Mercedes' F1 team's partnership deal with Kingspan - an insulation firm linked to the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
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Mercedes has been heavily criticised for signing a deal with Kingspan, a company who made a small amount of the insulation used in the cladding on the tower block which was engulfed by flames in 2017.
Survivors of the tragedy said the news had "shattered" them, branding Kingspan as having "no remorse or responsibility".
Kingspan's logo appeared on Sir Lewis' car for the first time on Saturday at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Speaking at a press conference after the qualifying session, Sir Lewis said the decision had "nothing" to do with him.
"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 (Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff) is sorting it.
"Unfortunately my name is associated with it because it has been on my car but whether that remains the same, we will see."
Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, called the move "deeply disappointing" whilst labour's shadow secretary Lisa Nandy said she hopes Lewis Hamilton - who drives for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team - is making his views "clearly known".
Mr Gove pledged to write to the Mercedes team to ask it to reconsider the deal adding that "the Grenfell community deserves better".
Ms Nandy said the partnership is "deeply disrespectful" to those who lost everything four years ago.
This news has shattered us. @KingspanIP_UK is rotten to the core 'little better than crooks & killers'. No remorse, or responsibility for the murder of our 72. Only greed & recklessness for human life.— Grenfell United (@GrenfellUnited) December 2, 2021
👇Our letter to @MercedesAMGF1 urging them to cut their ties with Kingspan. pic.twitter.com/FsLzCVsoYg
On Friday, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team principal Toto Wolff apologised to Grenfell survivors and bereaved relatives, and thanked campaign group Grenfell United for an offer to meet following its condemnation of the deal with Kingspan.
The group had written to Mr Wolff urging him to end the deal.
Responding to them in a letter, Mr Wolff wrote: "The tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire was beyond imaginable to me, and it should never have happened.
"On behalf of our team, I would sincerely like to apologise to you for the additional hurt that this announcement has caused.
"It was never our intention to do so.
"The work of the public inquiry to establish the full causes of the tragedy is crucially important."
Mr Wolff said that before concluding the partnership, his team "engaged with Kingspan in depth to understand what role their products played in what happened at Grenfell".
He said: "Kingspan have stated that they played no role in the design or construction of the cladding system on Grenfell Tower, and that a small percentage of their product was used as a substitute without their knowledge in part of the system which was not compliant with building regulations and was unsafe."
An inquiry is examining how Grenfell Tower came to be coated in flammable materials which contributed to the spread of flames, which shot up the tower in June 2017, killing 72 people.
Kingspan's K15 insulation was one of the products installed on the tower during its refurbishment, although the majority of the insulation used on the west London tower block was made by another company.
In a statement released on Friday, Kingspan said it played no role in the design of Grenfell Tower's cladding system.
"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", the company said.
"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's regulations.
"The new partnership with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team reflects the ambitious sustainability targets of both organisations."