On December 1, 2021, Kingspan announced a partnership with the Mercedes Formula One Team. At first, the partnership was criticized as a greenwashing attempt. The backlash quickly shifted to Kingspan’s status as a core participant in the U.K. Government Inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire that killed 72 people in London in 2017, given the contribution of the tower’s exterior insulation and cladding system to the extraordinarily rapid spread of the fire up the side of the building.
One week later, Mercedes announced that it was ending that partnership immediately, as covered in the national press. Amid the backlash from the survivors and bereaved of the Grenfell Tower fire, Member of Parliament and Secretary of State Michael Gove (Conservative Party) had also called on Mercedes to reconsider the commercial partnership, which he said, “threatens to undermine all the good work the company and sport have done.”
During the controversy, Mercedes defended the partnership by saying that “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.”
That statement side-steps the revelations from the Inquiry and indicates that Mercedes-Benz did not investigate and learn, or chose to ignore, the revelations that came out during the Grenfell Tower Inquiry concerning Kingspan’s approach to fire safety, certification and marketing. Those revelations, drawn from thousands of pages of testimony and company documents, are documented in our report.
Evidence of its short-lived partnership with Kingspan has been scrubbed from Mercedes’ web page, twitter feed, and other social media accounts.