Kingspan logos may disappear from Mercedes cars following Grenfell outcry

2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says discussions will be held with new sponsor Kingspan over whether its logos should remain on their cars following criticism prompted by news of their deal.

One of Kingspan’s products was used in Grenfell Tower which erupted in flames in 2017, killing 72 people. Grenfell United, the group which represents survivors and bereaved family members of the disaster, described the deal as “truly shocking”, and subsequently received an apology from Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.

The matter has escalated, with the UK government indicating changes to sponsorship law could be made in light of the case.

Following Saturday’s qualifying session for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton suggested the Kingspan logos may be removed from the team’s cars, and indicated he was not happy with the association.

“This really doesn’t have anything to do with me and I know Toto is sorting it,” said Hamilton. “Unfortunately my name is associated with it because it’s put on my car, but whether that remains the same, we shall see.”

Wolff said there’s “certainly a lot of learning for me personally and for the team” over the affair. “We’ve initiated a dialogue with some of the community of the bereaved families and survivors of the Grenfell tragedy to just better understand the pain that’s caused.

Mercedes added the Kingspan logo this weekend
“That process is just beginning but we would like to wish for privacy, one that’s ongoing. We are looking at it with a matter of urgency.”

Kingspan’s logos were added to the sides of the W12’s nose ahead of this weekend’s race. Wolff confirmed the question of whether they will remain on the cars is under consideration. “We have discussed also that with the important people and we will reach out to Kingspan and come up with the right solution.

“There is a contractual agreement that’s behind these things and we want to just do the right thing with integrity and that’s why I don’t want to further comment on that statement.”

Asked whether he regretted the deal, Wolff said: “We all develop and learn in our lives, and this is clearly a situation that will make me improve in the future and my assessment, my decision-making.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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35 comments on “Kingspan logos may disappear from Mercedes cars following Grenfell outcry”

  1. The world has truly gone insane. This company was as responsible for the death of these 72 people as Frank Williams was responsible for the death of Ayrton Senna. These things happen. You can’t burn an entire organisation through the ground because of mistakes happened.

    I find it ridiculous that Toto is even apologising for this.

    1. Patrick Chapman
      5th December 2021, 8:46

      You should get your facts straight before making outlandish comments like yours. Smarter people than you (that’s most of the worlds population) are dealing with Kingston so leave them to it. Frank Williams had nothing to do with Ayrton’s death so go away and learn about that too. It’s trouble makers like you that cause confusion in the world because you have a massive overrated opinion of your intelligence and self importance.

      1. Good day to you too.

    2. That last one, not so much, it’s the right thing to do for his team when such a lot of negative publicity is around @spafrancorchamps

      My main annoyance with it (I can forgive the victim’s organisation for being frustrated and using Hamilton’s name, though he has little to do with this) is minister Gove’s actions etc, as his party’s politics seem the main reason for the disaster having been such a disaster, and for it taking so long for the victims to know more and be helped (not from UK, it feels like all to deflect attention from themselves like with their Brexit mess). But whatever, Wolff’s reaction is the right way to go about it I think, and the team were naive to think internal talks with the company would be sufficient given the situation.

      1. Patrick Chapman
        5th December 2021, 9:11

        I am not sure what you are referring to in your first sentence. Your main comment makes good sense. Politics is a big factor in this issue. There is no doubt in my mind that Toto/Mercedes should distance themselves from their latest sponsor but that is a corporate decision and I am sure they will do the right thing but as with everything, one should keep an open mind on these things and see where the chips fall and perhaps only comment at that point.

      2. I believe conviction by media is something we should deal with, by no longer going along with it. Today there is outcry about Kingston. Tomorrow there is outcry about Johnnie Walker or some other brand out there. It is always a very small group of people with the biggest mouth out there, seeking a new victim each and every time.

    3. We are in the minority here @spafrancorchamps but I am total agreement with you, the whole thing is ridiculous to say the least. Many people with have instant association and outcry but in reality it’s just 2 companies doing a deal, neither of which was to blame for the fire

      1. Agreed. I never understood the need to apply guilt to something or someone each time something unfortunates happens. Sometimes, things just happen..

        1. I have no doubt at all that if one of your family members was one of the 72, you’d have a slightly different opinion. Sometimes things do happen but when there is a huge loss of life that could have been prevented, surely it’s owed to those who died (at least) to look into why it happened? We’re the products legal? Did they pass the relevant tests? Was the product defective?

          It’s important to a company like Kingspan to have an inquiry in order to clear their name if they are innocent but whilst that inquiry is ongoing, it’s not a great look for Mercedes to endorse their company.

    4. @spafrancorchamps You may want to rethink your comments. Frank Williams was cleared by the courts of Senna’s death, while Kingspan’s legal issues are likely to continue for quite some time (and could well result in a guilty verdict for a specific component within the tragedy, depending on what information emerges from the various legal processes).

      1. @alianora-la-canta In believe innocence until proven guilty still applies here.

        1. @spafrancorchamps You may wish to review your comments upthread, in that case, because they contradict that notion.

  2. Is the reason simply greed?!
    Greed and corporate bullcrap…so shameful.

    1. Patrick Chapman
      5th December 2021, 8:50

      Kingston are attempting to repair their damaged reputation as everybody/company would do. Where is the greed in that?
      Toto is trying to fund his team to keep it sustainable. Where is the greed in that?
      There is no shame in either of those – except in your own tiny little mind!

  3. I think the only way out of this PR mess for Mercedes is to donate all proceeds that they received from this sponsorship to the victims. It really is strange that they are even in this position. I assume all computers at Mercedes are busy running race simulations that they couldnt do a simple google search of their potential sponsor.

    1. Patrick Chapman
      5th December 2021, 9:14

      A good sentiment but that course of action wouldn’t allow them to remove the Kingston logo from their car which I think is what most of us want.

      1. I agree, but again I restate that we talk of a way out of the situation they shoulnt be in anyway. I think if they cancel the sponsorship then at the very least Mercedes has to return the money to Kingspan, who will then sponsor someone else. At least with the plan I proposed the money will make it back to the people that really need it, rather than another big corporation, which will not receive as loud opposition as in the current case. If they do that then having the logo on the Mercedes car would be a message that the money reached those that might need it.

    2. @nico_speed If, as is likely, there’s an in-kind element involved, a complete return of proceeds – to anyone – may be impossible.

  4. I’m an architect and to vilify Kingspan over this is completely ridiculous. Kingspan had nothing to do with Grenfell. The ACM cladding, principally responsible for the fire, was not made by Kingspan and only 5% of the insulation board behind the cladding was made by Kingspan. Kingspan did not design or approve the cladding details. Their product was used because the contractor ran out of the specified material. This is the only reason Kingspan is mentioned in reports. This is a case of activists crying foul who really have no idea what they’re talking about. If you live in a fairly new house, the chances are you have Kingspan insulation in its construction.

    1. “This is a case of activists crying foul who really have no idea what they’re talking about.”

      They’ve been fighting for justice for four years, we can safely assume they know what they are talking about. The residents complained about fire risk BEFORE the disaster – https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/apr/21/grenfell-resident-who-raised-fire-concerns-labelled-troublemaker-inquiry-told

      These individuals are hardly clueless. jeez.

      Honestly this screams of fan bias. The inquiry is looking into far more than x material was used etc…

      1. @Alan Dove

        Your link shows that one person complained about defective fire doors and a potentially dangerous safety policy beforehand, not about the building materials, so how does it prove that he is knowledgeable about building materials? And at most one of the activists is this specific person, so it doesn’t prove anything about the others anyway.

        Honestly this screams of fan bias.

        You seem unable to understand the article that you posted yourself, claiming that is shows things that it doesn’t. It’s not bias to stick with the facts, rather than fiction.

        1. I said residents complained about fire risk, and that is true. The residents also complained about low quality/cheap materials being used in the renovation prior to the fire. This is all on record.

          And before you complain about facts you stated as fact “This is a case of activists crying foul who really have no idea what they’re talking about.” How can you possibly know they have ‘no idea’ what they are talking about? That’s pure speculation on your part. I think people campaigning for justice 4 years after the disaster will ‘know what they are talking about’.

          There is such a weird undercurrent surrounding this.

          1. *correction. I thought the comment was from David, not a new user so discard my “you said” statement

          2. @Alan Dove

            I said residents complained about fire risk, and that is true.

            It was 1 resident, so not residents, so what you said was false. The complaints that he made also had nothing to with the cladding, which you left out. People will logically assume that you would only bring it up if the complaint had been about that, so they will tend to infer a falsehood.

            This is actually one of the most common ways in which the media spreads falsehoods, without actually lying (which goes against their ‘code,’ while deceiving people into believing falsehoods does not). The idea that you don’t spread falsehoods if you only state facts is based on a false idea about human cognition.

            Anyway, a lack of interest in safety on the part of the landlord, builder, etc, is actually exculpatory evidence as to the guilt of Kingspan (regardless of other evidence, like what @charleski brought up, which seems damning in general if true, although it might not be damning in this specific case).

        2. @aapje , David Scott The fire brigade has been complaining about the wrong type of cladding being used in the wrong capacities (as well as bad fire certification practices that the government was not allowing it to improve) since 2005 if not earlier (I know because it was input from them that caused a university building I was very peripherally involved in to change to a better cladding option), and that it was happening in entire categories of buildings of the last 30 years. Grenfell Tower was one of hundreds of buildings in the category in question. Grenfell’s residents would have had plenty of reason to doubt the cladding, even if the problems they were getting when trying to solve more visible problems like faulty fire doors restricted the extent to which they could get answers about said cladding.

          There are thresholds of information that are used to determine whether someone knew the purpose of something they were selling, and in the UK they are quite low. Certain materials are also supposed to have certain checks done pre-sale if sold above a certain quantity (note that 5% of a tower’s cladding is still a lot of material). It is entirely possible, under UK law, for a company to be a substitute provider and still have liability, even if we are unlikely to know for quite a while whether Kingspan fulfilled its responsibilities in this area.

          1. @alianora-la-canta

            The fire brigade has been complaining about the wrong type of cladding being used in the wrong capacities

            To whom did the fire brigade complain? It seems extremely unlikely that it was to Kingspan.

            There are thresholds of information that are used to determine whether someone knew the purpose of something they were selling

            If what @charleski says is true then there seems to be a misrepresentation of the qualities of the material, which could make them partially culpable (especially if it was intentional), although I think that it matters whether the builder actually checked whether the material was suitable and whether it was suitable under the reported specifications (for the old version). Supposedly, there was other unsuitable material that was used as well, suggesting that the builder was careless (unless that material was misrepresented as well).

          2. @aapje They complained to the government and to the public at large. Since Kingspan are a subset of “public at large”, then yes, they complained to Kingspan (whether Kingspan heard them or not).

            What you think matters does not tally with how UK law decides what matters. There are several layers of checks in situations like this, and Kingspan had one of them. Thus, the law will judge Kingspan according to whether it met its responsibilities regarding that layer. Unlike F1 regulations, “penalise all contributing parties” is an option in UK law.

    2. Patrick Chapman
      5th December 2021, 9:54

      Fair and reasonable comment. Unfortunately a lot of people will comment on things before the facts of the investigations are revealed. I do think though that given the outcry’s against Kingspan thisshould have factored into Mercedes decision to accept sponsorship from them. Ultimately we will learn the true story and then we can judge fairly who was actually responsible.

    3. Not so fast. While Kingspan was only responsible for 5.2% of the cladding used, the inquiry found significant evidence of misconduct in their selling practices, particularly with regard to the use of old fire safety test results on a product that had been subsequently altered, and one of their technical leads admitted engaging in deliberate deceit in order to boost sales.
      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-55986486

    4. @David Scott, thanks for clarifying a few important details, I have a few of my own

      I understand the emotive nature of sponsorship from Kingspan, but where do you start with the Grenfell blame game, here are some other potentially culpable parties.

      James Hanson for starting the alarmism with his CO2 global warming speech to Congress in 1988?
      Maggie Thatcher for seizing upon the opportunity to get revenge on the coal miners?
      The computer models that ran ‘hot’, forever failing to model and prove that CO2 was cooking the planet?
      The massive El Nino of 1998 that boosted global temperatures, sending panic around the world?
      The alarmism of the Labour party that led to the 2008 Climate Change Act obliging all local authorities to make CO2 saving in their properties?
      The contractors that cut costs by installing the wrong cladding?
      The architects and surveyors that failed to highlight the danger?
      The advice given to residents to ‘stay and await rescue’?

      The real kicker is that none of the CO2 alarmism is based on fact, quite the opposite. How do I know? Lack of sea level rise acceleration, see for example

      https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends_station.shtml?id=8518750

      Hundreds more like this around the planet. Let me spell out what the graph means..

      No sea level rise acceleration, dating back to pre-major industrialisation CO2 levels = no appreciable additional energy from CO2 = no appreciable warming from CO2 greenhouse effect

      Yes, the climate has always changed, what we are seeing is natural variability, a planetary system that yoyos between natural limits with a massive time constant of hundreds of years. It seeks equilibrium but never achieves it.

      The Grenfell residents died as a result of propaganda in the first instance, and groupthink/politics following, this is tragic. The victims continue through today, notably the cobalt mining children of the DRC, all for ‘environmentally friendly’ battery fuelled vehicles, just the tip of the unintended consequences of this madness.

  5. Ethics and business are in the main mutually exclusive, just look at the location choices F1 has made over the last few years. I remember when James Hardie sponsored Bathurst despite the thousands of deaths they caused, but easy money is oh so tempting.

    1. Patrick Chapman
      5th December 2021, 10:02

      “Ethics and business are in the main mutually exclusive”
      Business morals and ethics are very different to societal morals and ethics, and for good reason. The two cannot be compared directly. It is for this reason that the average person gets the two so badly confused when trying to make a logical comparison. It makes no sense to judge the two using the same argument. They are best left separated and judged using logical criteria. Sometimes this is very difficult to do for the average person.

  6. No they must be judged on the same criteria or they get way with what the Smoking corporations, James Hardie or Oil have done. They will launder their grubby reputations through sport, just like some “governments” do.

  7. Anyone even bother going to their own website? They say they had nothing to do with this, their product was used in a fractional amount and the engineers used it incorrectly. This is no different than tipper gore blaming Judas priest for a boy’s death which is absolutely shameful.

  8. RichTextFormat
    5th December 2021, 15:38

    What about all the other sponsors and their culpability in negative outcomes? There are petrol, tobacco, alcohol, and worse throwing money into this sport.

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