Mercedes F1 team calls it a day with Kingspan, ends controversial sponsorship deal

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Formula One team Mercedes announced on Wednesday they had ended their controversial sponsorship deal with a firm linked to the 2017 Grenfell Tower blaze in London, which killed 72 people.

The logo of Kingspan, whose products were used in the building, appeared on Lewis Hamilton's car at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday.

British housing minister Michael Gove and survivors of the fire had criticised Mercedes over the deal with the Irish company that makes insulation and cladding products.

Gove said he was "deeply disappointed" that Mercedes had signed the deal while an inquiry was ongoing into the tragedy.

Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff last week apologised for "additional hurt" to families of the victims of the disaster but stopped short of saying the team would review the deal

But Mercedes have now announced they have decided to part ways with Kingspan.

"The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team and Kingspan have announced they have mutually agreed to end their partnership," a statement said.

"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."

Kingspan issued its own statement saying it was "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".

The firm said it had no role in the Grenfell Tower refurbishment but added: "The Kingspan Insulation UK business is a core participant in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and fully supports the inquiry's important work".

The statement said the firm did not make the exterior cladding on the building, adding: "Our K15 insulation board was misused in this unsafe and non-compliant system."

Grenfell United, a group comprising survivors and bereaved families, said it welcomed the development, which followed a meeting with Wolff last week.

"We are pleased to hear this morning's news that Mercedes have decided to terminate their sponsorship deal with Kingspan with immediate effect," a statement read.

Gove tweeted: "I am grateful to Toto Wolff from Mercedes for listening to @GrenfellUnited, engaging with government and ending this deal."

Last week's result in Jeddah left seven-time champion Hamilton level on 369.5 points with title rival Max Verstappen ahead of the final race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

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