Throwback: Haas and Rich Energy, the mediatic shitshow
When you think about Formula 1, you probably think of fast cars, complex engineering, and heroic drivers. However, we all know that the sport has its fair share of drama, both in and out of the track, and the Haas-Rich Energy shitshow is a prime example in recent years.
Let's throwback to February 18, 2019. Haas revealed their season contender, the VF-19, announcing a new, exciting, multi-year title partnership with energy drink brand Rich Energy, founded in 2015 by William John Storey, a British businessman with a peculiar look.
Rich Energy already had a short history in the world of F1 media, when the company tried to buy the Sahara Force India team in 2018, which was struggling financially. The deal did not go through.
When the sponsorship deal was announced, most people didn't really know where Rich Energy came from. Most hadn't tried the drink (those who did say it's shit) and had never heard about the brand either. But hey, Haas didn't care about the brand recognition or the taste of the drink; they just needed the money, and Storey was able to provide it.
The season started and Haas showed promising pace in qualifying at the season opener in Australia. Driver Kevin Magnussen finished in 6th place, scoring 8 points for the team. However, this would be their best result of the year. Haas kept on delivering in qualifying but falling down when it mattered during the races... and oh boy did William Storey not like it.
Before the weekend of the British Grand Prix, the Rich Energy Twitter account had announced that the company would finish its sponsorship of Haas for "poor performance," as well as the "politics and PC [political correctness] attitude in F1 inhibiting our business."
We can't help but imagine the what the fuck look on Guenther Steiner's face, who said at the time that the statement from Rich Energy came as a surprise and that the team was not formally notified of the sponsorship termination. Company shareholders then went on to blame one "rogue individual" for the "great embarrassment" caused and reaffirmed their commitment to the deal with the team.
Now you can understand why we called it a shitshow in the title, and it didn't stop there. In the following days, Storey would use the company's account as if it was his personal one to respond to the statements made by his shareholders, effectively ruining the little reputation his brand had to that point.
But if you think it was enough... nope. Rich Energy faced a lawsuit from Whyte Bikes (which you can see tagged in the tweet above) for copyright infringement. The brand's logo seemed a little bit too similar to theirs. Whyte went on to win the case and Storey's company was forced to change its logo.
Eventually, all good things come to an end. Haas announced the end of their partnership with Rich Energy on September 9 of the same year, just a day after the Italian Grand Prix. However, it didn't stop them (or perhaps Storey) from continuing to tweet about the team, mocking them, but at the same time pretending to still be involved in F1.
Written by Luciano Calamante.