Toto Wolff apologises to Grenfell survivors over Mercedes sponsorship deal

Toto Wolff has written to the official survivors group of the Grenfell Tower fire to apologise after his Mercedes team agreed a sponsorship deal with a company with links to the tragedy.

Insulation firm Kingspan has become the latest sponsor for the Mercedes F1 team, with the deal officially announced on Thursday.

However, the news was met with fury from Grenfell United, which supports bereaved families and survivors of the 2017 tragedy which saw the tower block go up in flames and killed 72 people.

The group demanded that Mercedes "immediately sever its relationship" with the firm in an open letter addressed to Wolff. Some of the insulation used on Grenfell Tower was made by Kingspan.

And the Silver Arrows chief has now responded with a letter of his own, in which he apologies for any "additional hurt" caused to survivors and accepted an offer for an in-person meeting to discuss the situation.

"The tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire was beyond imaginable to me, and it should never happened," Wolff 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.

"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."

The Kingspan logo appeared for the first time on the Mercedes cars in the first practice session in Saudi Arabia on Friday.

Secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities Michael Gove has also said he will be writing to the team with a request to end the partnership.

"Deeply disappointed that @MercedesAMGF1 are accepting sponsorship from cladding firm Kingspan while the Grenfell Inquiry is ongoing," Gove wrote on Twitter.

"I will be writing to Mercedes to ask them to reconsider. The Grenfell community deserves better."

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