Rich Energy has blamed the decision to terminate its title sponsorship of Haas on “the rogue actions of one individual” as it attempts to save the deal.
The energy drink company tweeted on Wednesday evening that it had terminated the deal, citing poor performance and the “unacceptable” result in Austria — where Kevin Magnussen qualified fifth but finished 19th behind George Russell’s Williams — at the heart of the decision. While Haas team principal Guenther Steiner stated he couldn’t comment on the matter on Thursday ahead of the British Grand Prix, a statement from Rich Energy has been released performing a U-turn.
“The shareholders who own the majority of Rich Energy, would like to clarify certain statements that have been circulated in the media from an unauthorized source,” the statement read.
“We wholeheartedly believe in the Haas F1 Team, its performance, and the organization as a whole and we are fully committed to the current sponsorship agreement in place. We also completely believe in the product of Formula 1 and the platform it offers our brand.
“Clearly the rogue actions of one individual have caused great embarrassment. We are in the process of legally removing the individual from all executive responsibilities. They may speak for themselves but their views are not those of the company. The incident is very regrettable; we will not be making further comment on this commercially sensitive matter and will be concluding it behind closed doors.
“We wish to confirm our commitment to the Haas F1 Team, Formula 1 and to thank the Haas F1 Team for their support and patience whilst this matter is dealt with internally.”
Rich Energy CEO William Storey was quoted in The Sun newspaper earlier on Thursday as stating: “We terminated them.
“Unfortunate but logical decision in light of events… Haas [are] nice people but the car is going backwards. We are a superior product to Red Bull. A milkfloat at back of grid a disaster for us. End of.”
Steiner says the team will continue to run the Rich Energy logo and livery throughout this weekend’s race at Silverstone while the matter is clarified.