This evening a very odd and unannounced statement in the form of a tweet, came from the rather unconventional main sponsor of the Haas Formula 1 team, Rich Energy.
Rich Energy has raised many an eyebrow since it made it’s presence known in the paddock, as far back as 2017. For many, this was a front and not a real business venture, with very few products, if any – being produced. Rich Energy, a drinks brand, surprised many when it was announced they were to be the title sponsor of the Haas F1 team for 2019.
At precisely 18.35 UK time, the twitter account of Rich Energy declared that they had terminated their contract with Haas, citing that the team had failed to be in front of Williams in Austria as the central reason for the split.
Today @rich_energy terminated our contract with @HaasF1Team for poor performance. We aim to beat @redbullracing & being behind @WilliamsRacing in Austria is unacceptable. The politics and PC attitude in @F1 is also inhibiting our business. We wish the team well #F1 #richenergy pic.twitter.com/9mAt2dOnYu
— Rich Energy (@rich_energy) July 10, 2019
Obviously, such a statement is rather bizarre, particularly in light of the fact that Haas’s French/Swiss driver Romain Grosjean finished ahead of both Williams at the Austrian Grand Prix, and in qualifying Magnussen started the race in 5th and Grosjean in 11th. Both Williams were at the back of the grid.
Due to the fact there’s been no statement from Haas or their team boss Gunther Steiner, some are speculating that there’s a chance the Rich Energy twitter account has been hacked and the owners locked out of the account. Some sources already at Silverstone concur that this is very likely. That said, it could be a strange PR stunt by the unconventional boss of Rich Energy, the strange looking William Storey. Whether wanted PR stunt or not? We will find out later.
Equally there are many who aren’t surprised to see the tweet, citing that often the account appears very unprofessional as a brand, trading insults and getting embroiled in arguments with other twitter accounts. Some say that it’s likely the Rich Energy Brand isn’t a real company and just some money laundering front, although TJ13 doesn’t agree as there are many less high profile ways of hiding riches (get it?) than to become a principle sponsor of a F1 team.
2 days ago they were retweeting Haas previews for the british gp, I think Rich got hacked pic.twitter.com/YtLubueSDW
— Lucas Miranda ❎ (@LuckOliverF1) July 10, 2019
The Haas team has repeatedly countered the skepticism of many observers that Rich Energy is adhering to the contractual agreements and that money has already flowed. In January, team boss Günther Steiner waved off: “Everything is alright, we have already received money and they will be our main sponsor.”
Overall, Haas was allowed to enjoy more than 20 million more in the team funds this year. Although it is not known exactly how much Rich pays for the deal. Estimates, however, probably about ten million US dollars per year.
It could well be that the recent court hearing that declared Rich Energy should stop using their Stag logo due to copyright infringement, might be a contributing factor and a reason that Rich Energy’s money source has dried up.
What happens to the paint job?
If the information is indeed confirmed and Rich Energy is no longer Haas sponsor – so far there is no information about it – then also raises the question of what happens with the livery of the VF-19. Because the black and gold design was chosen based on the rich design and should be reminiscent of the JPS Lotus times. Therefore, the team of the gray mouse turned this year into the black and gold racer.
” I loved the JPS Lotus, ” Storey said at the announcement. “For me, this is the best paint job of all time, you do not have to be Hercule Poirot to realize we’re bringing this back, it’s really exciting.”
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