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Leaked documents appear to show Rich Energy has terminated Haas F1 deal

British drinks brand Rich Energy has published legal documents purporting to show that it has terminated its sponsorship deal with the Haas F1 Team, despite Haas’s claims to the contrary.

On Sunday Rich Energy tweeted a copy of a letter it has received from Haas’s lawyers, UK law firm The Ebury Partnership LLP, in an attempt to “disavow the lies” of the Haas F1 Team.

The letter, dated July 11, states that “We act on behalf of Haas who have forwarded to us a copy of an email from William Storey, the CEO of Rich Energy, to Guenther Steiner, the Team Principal of our client.

“In this email Mr Storey purports to terminate the Sponsorship Agreement with immediate effect. This amounts to a repudiatory breach of the Sponsorship Agreement with Rich Energy.

“Our client has elected to accept this repudiatory breach and claim damages.”

As of today, however, the Haas F1 Team told SportBusiness Sponsorship that Rich Energy is still its title partner, and the deal remains unchanged.

The letter goes on to state that Haas is entitled to recover £6m (€6.7m/$7.5m) in damages currently outstanding from Rich Energy, in addition to £14m in sponsorship fees due in 2020 and £15m due in 2021.

Rich Energy is also warned that if it does not pay the £35m within 14 days of receiving the letter, Haas will “consider itself at liberty to issue proceedings without further notice”.

Last Wednesday, Rich Energy posted a tweet claiming it had terminated its partnership with Haas due to “poor performance” and the “politics and PC [politically correct] attitude in F1”.

A day later Haas dismissed the tweet, posting its own statement saying that Rich Energy is still its title partner.

A group of shareholders claiming to “own the majority of Rich Energy” then released a statement blaming the earlier tweet on a “rogue” individual, who had caused “great embarrassment” to the brand.

Even more shocking were two tweets posted by Rich Energy during the British Grand Prix this weekend, mocking Haas F1 for its livery and its performance.

On Saturday Rich Energy tweeted: “@HaasF1Team love @rich_energy so much (we don’t blame them as #betterthanredbull ) they have kept our brand livery on the car even after we sacked them for poor performance!”

And on Sunday, after Haas drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen took each other out of the race in a wheel-to-wheel collision, Rich Energy mocked the team from its official Twitter account:

“Great start boys@HaasF1Team #BritishGP #HaasF1 #richenergy #milkfloat.”

The controversy all leads back to Rich Energy’s copyright infringement battle with ATB Sales Limited, parent company of British bicycle manufacturer Whyte Bikes.

In May this year, Rich Energy was found liable of copying Whyte Bikes’ stag’s head logo, and was ordered by the High Court to remove the logo from all UK business assets by July 18.

Among other penalties imposed by the High Court, Rich Energy was also ordered to hand over details of all its financial transactions to date, including its sponsorship with Haas, by July 18.

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