'Not appropriate': Mercedes forced to end 'disgusting' sponsorship deal

·Sports Reporter
·5-min read
Mercedes have apologised following outcry over a a new sponsor deal which saw the logo for Kingspan, a building materials firm associated with the Grenfell Tower tragedy, appear on Lewis Hamilton's car. Pictures: Getty Images
Mercedes have apologised following outcry over a a new sponsor deal which saw the logo for Kingspan, a building materials firm associated with the Grenfell Tower tragedy, appear on Lewis Hamilton's car. Pictures: Getty Images

Mercedes have apologised and withdrawn from a sponsorship deal with a company linked to the 2017 Grenfell Tower tragedy, which left 72 dead.

Families of those who died in the tragic fire were upset to see the logo of building materials company Kingspan displayed on the F1 car of Lewis Hamilton during last weekend's Saudi Arabian GP.

'NEED A MIRACLE': Red Bull's staggering confession in F1 title fight

'F***ING CRAZY': Lewis Hamilton blasts Max Verstappen in F1 mayhem

The sponsorship deal, worth roughly $A7.4 million, resulted in the British-based team being fiercely criticised by the nation's housing minister, Michael Gove.

The Mercedes F1 team was also called on to end the deal by the Grenfell United group, comprised of survivors of the deadly blaze as well as family members of those who died.

Nabil Choucair, who lost six family members in the tragic fire, described the sponsorship arrangement as 'disgusting', while Gove told press he was 'deeply disappointed' about the deal.

Kingspan, an Ireland based building materials company, produced the cladding that contributed to the blaze, which took fire crews more than 60 hours to douse after it broke out in June 2017.

Following the outcry, team boss Toto Wolff apologised for any 'additional hurt' the sponsorship may have caused to those associated with the disaster.

The team went a step further on Thursday, formally ending the deal 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.”

In a statement of their own, Kingspan said it was 'deeply aware of the sensitivities raised' and said it had agreed to terminate the arrangement with Mercedes.

Kingspan also reiterated that the cladding they had manufactured which was used on the Grenfell Tower had been used incorrectly.

Grenfell United also issued a statement once the deal had been publicly ended, thanking the Mercedes F1 team for listening to their concerns.

“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.

Changes made to Abu Dhabi track for Formula One finale

Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina Circuit has undergone a series of changes in a bid to make the Formula One season finale even more exciting for drivers and fans.

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen are tied on 369.5 points at the top of the drivers' championship ahead of this weekend's decider, while the constructors' title is also yet to be claimed with Mercedes holding a 28-point lead over Red Bull.

Last weekend's spectacular race in Jeddah, F1's debut in Saudi Arabia, will live long in the memory after the new circuit delivered drama.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has hosted the last race of the season for the past seven years, an honour the organisers pay a premium for in the hope of such an occasion as this.

But their eighth end-of-season event not only provides the conclusion to one of the most closely-fought, back-and-forth title fights in memory - it also takes place on a circuit altered to improve the spectacle.

Lewis Hamilton celebrated victory over Max Verstappen in the Saudi Arabian GP, setting up a thrilling championship decider at the final race of the F1 season. (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton celebrated victory over Max Verstappen in the Saudi Arabian GP, setting up a thrilling championship decider at the final race of the F1 season. (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)

"I'm looking forward to the finale in Abu Dhabi as they have modified the track there, which I'm really pleased about as I think it will present a new challenge to the drivers," Ross Brawn, Formula One's managing director of motorsport told F1.com.

"I think they are going to enjoy it a lot more. The simulations we have done show the new Abu Dhabi is a better racing track with more opportunities for overtaking.

"I'm keen to see what the drivers say about it. Make sure you're glued to your seats next Sunday as this is going to be exciting."

Three main areas of the track have been reconfigured to help overall speed, pursuing and overtaking.

A chicane has been removed, with a wider hairpin now forming turn seven, while four tight corners, 11 to 14, have also gone - replaced by one long, cambered turn.

Further alterations at the hotel section, turns 17 to 20, have been made to allow the cars to run closer together in an attempt to boost the number of overtaking opportunities on the circuit.

The changes mean it is harder to determine which car will be better-suited to the Yas Marina Circuit, with Verstappen winning here last year to end a run of six consecutive Mercedes victories in the United Arab Emirates.

Formula One may have raced here 12 times previously but following on from the first outing in Jeddah last weekend, the Abu Dhabi alterations make this another unknown in what has proved to be an enthralling year for the sport.

With AAP

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting