By Luke O'Reilly, PA
Lewis Hamilton has said he had “nothing” to do with Mercedes’ F1 team’s partnership deal with Kingspan – an insulation firm linked to Grenfell Tower.
Hamilton is competing with the team at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix this weekend.
Kingspan’s logo appeared on his car for the first time on Saturday.
Speaking at a press conference after the qualifying session, Hamilton said the decision had “nothing” to do with him.
“It is not something that I feel I have to speak about publicly”, he said.
“I had nothing to do with the team signing any of the sponsors. Tommy (Hilfiger) was the only one I probably brought to the team.
“It was news to me when I heard the things that have happened this week and I was very aware and watching closely all the families affected by what happened there.
“We know there has been a huge outcry and an amazing amount of support by people in the community around there.
“It is really nothing to do with me and I know Toto (Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff) is sorting it.
“Unfortunately my name is associated with it because it has been on my car but whether that remains the same, we will see.”
Hamilton 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.”
On Friday, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team principal Toto Wolff apologised to Grenfell survivors and bereaved relatives, and thanked campaign group Grenfell United for an offer to meet following its condemnation of the deal with Kingspan.
The group had written to Mr Wolff urging him to end the deal.
Responding to them in a letter, Mr 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.”
Mr 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.”
Meanwhile, British communities secretary Michael Gove said the UK government could amend advertising rules on racing cars if Mercedes does not pull the partnership with Kingspan.
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’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.
In a statement released on Friday, Kingspan said it played no role in the design of Grenfell Tower’s cladding system.
“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”, the company said.
“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.
“The new partnership with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team reflects the ambitious sustainability targets of both organisations.”