Rich Energy cancels Haas F1 contract, citing ‘poor performance’

British drinks brand Rich Energy has terminated its title sponsorship of the Haas F1 team, citing “poor performance” and the “politics and PC attitude” of Formula One.

In a statement posted on its official Twitter account, Rich Energy said: “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.”

The move comes only a week after the UK High Court upheld an earlier ruling against Rich Energy for copyright infringement, and denied it a right of appeal.

Rich Energy was also ordered to hand over documents showing all of its financial transactions to date, including details of its sponsorship with Haas.

In May this year, Rich Energy was found liable of copyright infringement after British bicycle manufacturer Whyte Bikes accused the brand of stealing its stag’s head logo.

Last week, a disclosure from the UK Intellectual Property Enterprise Court confirmed that Rich Energy must remove the disputed logo from all its UK business assets by July 18.

Haas F1 has not used the logo since the Canadian Grand Prix in June, and is expected not to use it at this week’s British Grand Prix.

Rich Energy’s title sponsorship with Haas was announced in October last year, and the brand had featured prominently on Haas’s vehicle livery and driver overalls for most of the season.

The brand has also been prominent on social media, where it has earned a reputation for its combative PR strategy, after launching public attacks on Whyte Bikes and the BBC, among others.

Last month, Rich Energy tweeted to Whyte Bikes after losing its court battle: “Enjoy the free PR while you can guys. Those with an IQ higher than their age realise you are Mickey Mouse.

“Oh how we will laugh in due course. We are actually investing money in F1 whilst you are investing zero. Total parasites who knew about us for 2 years before piping up #F1.”

BBC Top Gear presenter Chris Harris chimed in on the same thread, suggesting to Haas F1: “You might want to disassociate yourself from this bunch.”

Rich Energy replied directly to Harris: “You do low rent videos in your bio. Analysis on a similar level. In the way your show does not support UK car companies like @UltimaCars (faster than @Porsche that you fawn over) it is entirely in keeping that you would disparage us. #F1 #ultima #TopGear #richenergy #FactCheck.”

In her written judgment against Rich Energy, Judge Melissa Clarke also noted the brand’s erratic style of communication. 

She referred to Rich Energy chief executive William Storey and Sean Kelly, founder of marketing firm Staxoweb and creator of the Rich Energy logo, as “poor witnesses”.

SportBusiness Sponsorship contacted Rich Energy, but the brand decline to comment. Haas is also yet to comment.

Haas F1 is currently ninth out of 10 teams in this year’s F1 championship, albeit only six points behind eighth-place Alfa Romeo.

Former champions Red Bull Racing are third after winning the Austrian Grand Prix last month.