Grenfell storm overshadows Lewis Hamilton victory as pressure mounts after he wins Saudi Arabia’s first-ever Grand Prix in car sponsored by firm linked to inferno horror
- The champion disowned his team Mercedes’ sponsorship deal with Kingspan
- He initially refused to answer questions on the matter at a press conference
- Victims hit out at the driver’s decision to race with Kingspan’s name on his car
The world Formula One champion has disowned his team Mercedes’ sponsorship deal with Kingspan, which made combustible insulation for the tower block – but the firm’s logo was still emblazoned on his car during the race.
Hamilton initially refused to answer questions on the matter at a press conference ahead of the race in Jeddah saying it was ‘not something that I feel I have to speak about publicly’.
But when pushed he said: ‘It was news to me when I heard this week.
Pressure mounted on Lewis Hamilton last night after he won Saudi Arabia’s first-ever Grand Prix in a car sponsored by a firm linked to the Grenfell tragedy
The world Formula One champion has disowned his team Mercedes’ sponsorship deal with Kingspan, which made combustible insulation for the tower block
‘We know there has been a huge outcry and an amazing amount of support by people in the community.
‘It is really nothing to do with me and I know Toto (Wolff, the team principal) 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.’
Victims yesterday hit out at the British driver’s decision to continue racing with Kingspan’s name on his car.
Nabil Choucair, 47, who lost five relatives including his mother and sister in the blaze, accused him of taking ‘blood money’.
‘I find the whole situation with the sponsorship of F1 by Kingspan both sickening and disgusting,’ he said.
‘Lewis Hamilton can’t deny that he’s a part of this. It’s his car, he’s driving it and he could ask for it to be removed.
Hamilton initially refused to answer questions on the matter at a press conference ahead of the race in Jeddah
‘He has the choice to say to the world “I support Kingspan” or “I support Grenfell”.
‘He should be as far away as possible from blood money because this is what it is.’
Seven-time world champion Hamilton has also said he did not ‘feel comfortable’ competing in Saudi Arabia, which has been accused of using the event to ‘sportswash’ its image in the face of condemnation over its human- rights record.
Hamilton, 36, has used his profile to raise issues with the regime, notably wearing a rainbow helmet in support of the LGBT community as same-sex relationships are illegal in the country.
Emma O’Connor, 32, who escaped from the 20th floor of Grenfell, compared his vocal criticism of Saudi to his relative silence on Kingspan.
‘He’s saying that Saudi’s have no human rights and he’s fighting for them but what about our rights?’ she fumed. ‘He has Grenfell survivors and bereaved who are F1 fans so to see that logo must have been sickening. He should have input on withdrawing their sponsorship.’
Hamilton, 36, has used his profile to raise issues with the regime, notably wearing a rainbow helmet in support of the LGBT community as same-sex relationships are illegal in the country
Kingspan’s complicity in the fire of June 2017 is the subject of a public inquiry but that did not stop the firm landing the sponsorship deal, which is said to be worth up to £3million.
Survivors’ group Grenfell United earlier described the arrangement as ‘truly shocking’ and demanded its withdrawal.
Wolff has written to Grenfell United to apologise for the ‘additional hurt’ the deal has caused.
Hamilton started yesterday’s race in pole position after Red Bull rival Max Verstappen crashed in qualifying meaning he started in third.
Hamilton was second in overall standings and his win means the season comes down to a winner-takes-all clash in Abu Dhabi next week.