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Lewis Hamilton and the F1 team he drives for are facing criticism from Grenfell survivors after Mercedes announced its partnership with building materials firm Kingspan.
Kingspan made some of the insulation used on the refurbishment of the tower, which caught fire on 14 June 2017 killing 72 people. An inquiry into the tragedy is still ongoing.
Following the news that the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team had signed a sponsorship deal with Kingspan, survivors and those who lost family members in the blaze expressed their outrage.
Survivors' group Grenfell United said they were 'shattered' by the news and wrote a letter to Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team CEO Toto Wolff, urging him to 'immediately sever' the relationship with the company.
The letter read: "Kingspan played a central role in inflicting the pain and suffering that we feel today, and there must be a degree of public censure for Kingspan's recklessness and carelessness for human life."
Meanwhile, Michael Gove, the secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities, said he would to ask Mercedes to 'reconsider'.
Posting on Twitter, Gove said: "Deeply disappointed that @MercedesAMGF1 are accepting sponsorship from cladding firm Kingspan while the Grenfell Inquiry is ongoing. I will be writing to Mercedes to ask them to reconsider. The Grenfell community deserves better."
Following the backlash, Wolff has apologised and has agreed to meet Grenfell survivors.
In a letter shared on Twitter, he wrote: "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. Prior to concluding our partnership we engaged with Kingspan in depth to understand what role their products played in what happened at Grenfell.
A letter from Toto Wolff to Grenfell United. pic.twitter.com/OcczmEP4yA
- Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) December 3, 2021
"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.
"I know that this does not change in any way the awful tragedy you suffered, or the deep and ongoing pain felt in your community, and I would like to thank Grenfell United for the offer to meet in person for me to learn and understand better.
"I look forward to coming together as soon as we can."
Kingspan told the Guardian: "Kingspan played no role in the design of the cladding system on Grenfell Tower, where its K15 product constituted approximately five-percent of the insulation and was used as a substitute product without Kingspan's knowledge in a system that was not compliant with the building regulations.
"The new partnership with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team reflects the ambitious sustainability targets of both organisations."
Words by Claire Reid
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