Formula One racing team Haas have announced the immediate termination of their title sponsorship deal with drinks brand Rich Energy.
After months of speculation regarding the future of the relationship between Haas and Rich Energy, the team said they have parted ways as the energy drinks brand’s ‘corporate restructuring’ has called for a ‘revised’ strategy.
Haas team principal Guenther Steiner met with Rich Energy representatives in London on 28th August and said a decision would be made before the Singapore Grand Prix on 22nd September. After the latest Grand Prix in Italy a conclusion has now been reached.
In a statement announcing the termination, the US-based team said:
‘Haas F1 Team and Rich Energy have amicably agreed to end their partnership together in the FIA Formula One World Championship with immediate effect. While enjoying substantial brand recognition and significant exposure through its title partnership of Haas F1 Team in 2019, a corporate restructuring process at Rich Energy will see the need for a revised global strategy.
‘Subsequently, Haas F1 Team and Rich Energy concluded a termination of the existing partnership was the best way forward for both parties. Haas F1 Team would like to express its thanks and best wishes to the stakeholders at Rich Energy.’
The update comes weeks after Rich Energy’s controversial chief executive William Storey resumed control of the energy drinks brand after being removed from that position in light of legal problems.
With multiple court cases taken against Rich Energy earlier this summer in light of copyright breaches, as well as a separate matter concerning transfer of shares to wine company Vin-X, Rich Energy was renamed Lightning Volt with ownership relinquished by Storey to the BDG Group in London, namely to director Matthew Bruce Kell.
According to recent filings at Companies House, Storey has resumed his majority shareholding position at his company after relinquishing control.
All appeared well, when Haas unveiled Rich Energy as their official title sponsor in October 2018, signing a multi-year agreement with the British energy drinks company for the start of the 2019 season. The deal marked Haas’ first title sponsorship deal since joining the Liberty Media-owned motorsport series in 2016.
Problems started when Storey was cited as being behind tweets claiming the brand had relinquished its deal with Haas and criticised the team. It emerged that Storey was feuding with shareholders over the company’s title sponsorship deal with Haas when on 10th July a tweet from the official Rich Energy account stated it had ended its deal with the struggling Formula One team, blaming poor on-track performance and the sport’s politics for its decision. The tweet was apparently authorised by Storey and remains on the company’s Twitter profile.
But in a counter move a rebuttal statement was issued a day later, stating it was from ‘the shareholders who own the majority of Rich Energy’, blaming the ‘rogue actions of one individual’ for the tweet.
After Haas tried to draw a line under the issues by saying they planned to honour the deal, Storey issued a further tweet on Rich Energy’s account, attacking the company’s shareholders.
Storey said: “The ludicrous statement by minority shareholders cosy with Red Bull and Whyte Bikes is risible. Their attempted palace coup has failed. I control all of the assets of Rich Energy and have support of all key stakeholders.”
The end of the title partnership with Haas comes during a difficult first season in Formula One for Rich Energy. A copyright dispute with Whyte Bikes meant it had to remove its stag logo from all Haas branding, while the team itself has struggled on track.