Michael Gove warns Mercedes-AMG F1 team he will intervene over Grenfell insulation partnership

  • Michael Gove warns Mercedes F1 he will intervene if team doesn’t end partnership with Kingspan
  • Kingspan’s K15 insulation was one of the products installed on Grenfell Tower
  • Gove says ministers could amend advertising rules on racing cars
  • Mercedes-AMG F1 team boss Wolff issues an apology

Time 8:16 am, December 7, 2021

Ministers could amend advertising rules on racing cars if the Mercedes Formula One team does not pull a partnership with an insulation firm linked to Grenfell Tower.

In a letter to Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team principal Toto Wolff, communities secretary Michael Gove said the government could step in if the team does not stop its relationship with Kingspan.

Advertising in sporting arenas and on vehicles in England is currently excluded from controls by Gove’s department.

He wrote: ‘My cabinet colleagues and I will keep this system under constant and close review to ensure that the advertising regime remains fit for purpose and reflects the public interest.

‘I am conscious that there are very real questions about whether parliament would support a statutory regime that enabled a core participant in a public inquiry in to how 72 people lost their lives to advertise its products publicly to millions of families across the country.

‘The achievements of Mercedes and Sir Lewis Hamilton in recent years represent a British success story of which we are all proud.

‘I hope you will reconsider this commercial partnership which threatens to undermine all the good work the company and sport has done.’

Wolff has apologised to Grenfell survivors and bereaved relatives, and thanked campaign group Grenfell United for their offer to meet following their condemnation of the deal with Kingspan.

The group had written to Wolff urging him to end the Kingspan deal.

Responding to them in a letter, Toto 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.’

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.’

The apology also came after shadow levelling-up secretary Lisa Nandy said she hopes Sir Lewis Hamilton, who drives for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team, is making his views ‘clearly known’ to those who made the decision about the Kingspan deal.

Sir Lewis has previously written about the Grenfell Tower fire on his Instagram account.

In 2020 he posted a picture with a caption that said: ‘Today marks three years since the horrific Grenfell Tower fire in London.

‘Remembering the 72 souls we lost and their loved ones, and everyone affected by this tragedy.’

Kingspan’s K15 insulation was one of the products installed on Grenfell Tower during its refurbishment, although the majority of the insulation used on the west London tower block was made by another company.

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 said in a statement: ‘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.

‘Kingspan played no role in the design of the cladding system on Grenfell Tower, where its K15 product constituted approximately five per cent 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.

Get more from Car Dealer

  • Premium stories
  • Used car data
  • Magazine early access

‘The new partnership with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team reflects the ambitious sustainability targets of both organisations.’

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

More stories...

Server 190