F1's Haas insists title sponsor still in place despite 'quit' tweets
Haas, the Formula 1 motor racing team, said today that Rich Energy remains its title sponsor, despite the energy drink brand claiming to have cancelled the contract due to the team's poor performances.
The multi-year sponsorship deal has only been in place since the start of the 2019 season in March, but Haas presently sit ninth in the 10-team F1 Constructors Championship, only ahead of Williams.
In a series of tweets, Rich Energy said: “We aim to beat Red Bull, and being behind Williams in Austria [a Haas driver finished behind a Williams rival at the Austrian Grand Prix] is unacceptable”.
The company added: “The politics and PC attitude in F1 is also inhibiting our business. We wish the team well.”
However, Haas, founded in 2014 and backed by US motor racing tycoon Gene Haas, today insisted the title sponsorship is still in place.
Guenther Steiner, Haas team principal, said: "Rich Energy is currently the title partner of Haas F1 team. I cannot comment further on the contractual relationship between our two parties due to commercial confidentiality."
Haas finished fifth in the Constructors Championship in 2018, and its primary source of funding up until the Rich Energy sponsorship had been its founder’s company, Haas Automotion.
Before taking on the Haas title sponsorship, Rich Energy had tried to buy fellow F1 side Force India (now called Racing Point), when the team went into administration last year.
However, despite producing a buyout bid that would have brought Force India £30 million ($38.4 million) in sponsorship, the bid was rejected by the High Court judge as being insufficient to secure the team’s future.
In May, Rich Energy lost a copyright infringement case against Whyte Bikes, a bicycle maker, which claimed that Haas had copied its logo.
Whyte Bikes argued that the energy drink brand's livery, a stag's head, was essentially identical to a logo belonging to the cycle manufacturer that had been designed in 2008.
Judge Melissa Clarke found for Whyte Bikes, saying it was "more than likely" that Rich Energy lied about not being familiar with Whyte's logo, and that they "knowingly and frequently copied" it in designing their own logo.
William Storey, boss of Rich Energy, was found by the judge to be a “poor witness”, and the judge added that Storey “had a tendency to make impressive statements, which on further investigation or consideration were not quite what they seemed.”