Haas livery launch, Royal Automobile Club, 2019

Haas being “a lot more careful” with sponsor deals after Rich Energy episode

2020 F1 season

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Haas have learned lessons from their experience with former title sponsor Rich Energy last year, according to team principal Guenther Steiner.

The energy drinks brand joined the team at the beginning of 2019. But after just nine races the company announced it had cancelled its deal with the F1 team.

Rich Energy CEO William Storey repeatedly criticised Haas on social media, and the two formally split over the summer break. According to Haas, Rich Energy only made the first of their scheduled payments under their deal.

Steiner, who told RaceFans in 2018 the Rich Energy deal had come about “pretty quickly”, admitted the team will approach future deals with other sponsors more cautiously.

“We are a lot more careful,” he said in an exclusive interview RaceFans. “We have not ‘burned fingers’, but we are a lot more careful about what we are doing and we are in no rush to do anything. You can make a mistake once, and the second time doesn’t work.”

Before the split from the team, Rich Energy also had to change its logo due to a court case over copyright infringement, which it later lost.

Steiner added there are signs Formula 1’s growing popularity since its takeover by Liberty Media will make it easier to find more sponsors in future.

“I think there is an incubation time, people need to realise that,” he said. “Formula 1 for a while was not growing, was not getting better, and I think Liberty is doing a good job in growing it and showing that the footprint gets better, that the TV gets better. In general it’s up. But it takes some time.”

Read Dieter Rencken’s exclusive interview with Haas team principal Guenther Steiner in the new RacingLines column later today on RaceFans

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 21 comments on “Haas being “a lot more careful” with sponsor deals after Rich Energy episode”

    1. They must have been the only people on the planet who didn’t foresee the eventual outcome.

      Yet more evidence of Steiner not being fit for the task.
      Can’t wait for him to be out of F1.

    2. I couldn’t feel bad for Haas if I tried when it comes to this. The writing was all over the walls, ceiling, and floors that Rich Energy and William Storey were not worth their’s, nor anyone else’s time, regardless of whether the checks clear. After they failed to buy Force India at the start of 2018, and then again after Storey threw a temper tantrum when FI entered administration, how could anyone see Rich and think “well, I sure wanna partner with these guys!” Not even getting all the cash for the year up front would have made that PR headache worth it.

      I just hope Haas have learned from it like they say they have.

    3. Haas saw the opportunity for some cash and ran with it. They then claimed they’d done their due diligence etc when they clearly hadn’t. That’s the lesson they learned.

      We all could have told them to stay away. Rich Energy was already the topic of several busy forum posts, all identifying glaring holes in the logo/business model/Storey/distribution etc. If someone from Haas had done 5 minutes of googling they’d have realised they weren’t partnering with a proper company.

      It was entertaining for us all though.

    4. “Haas announces a deal with sportpesa”

      1. Hahaha, classic.

    5. Haas still got 35 million $ out of it. Whatever they say, I bet they’d take that same deal again in a heartbeat. A little embarassment means nothing compared to 35 million $.

      1. They didn’t. An initial installment was paid but no other funds were advanced to the team.

        1. On one hand haas did only get the first payment from richy rich. But even then that is a lot more than nothing. Did haas have other options? Doubt it.

        2. @geemac In the second season of Drive to Survive, Gene Haas said they received their initial $35 million, but the total deal was supposed to be for $60 million.

          1. @g-funk I just got to that bit in the series…and now feel like a nonce! :)

      2. It’s a pittance to get out of a title sponsorship though. And it displaces other possible bidders for the title slot who could have made good on their offers and continued their sponsorship beyond the first season. If they turned down other offers of even half what Rich Energy signed up for they lost a lot of money!

    6. I wonder if “more careful” means actually analysing the potential sponsor rather than shaking his hand blindedly at the first opportunity. It was all bound to happen.

      It’s sad tho, because the whole thing was hillarious.

    7. But wait, they did their “due diligence”… don’t tell me it was a lie!!!!

    8. Haas took an optional but risky ticket, they had the same or even more info as anyone here. For a small team that kind of money was worth a lot if paid in full, which we all know by now didnt happen.
      Reputation wise, I dont think any firm outthere will do any bussiness with those Rich guys going forward, so Rich has for a full generation damaged any chance of any serious business partners. HAAS logo was more in media than their 2019 performance was into, but nobody, except the most clever ones of us here, think bad of HAAS product range because of this, and he is here to promote his company.

      1. Check out who sponsors the OMG Racing team in 2020 ……

    9. To be fair, performing a Google search on any potential sponsor would qualify as being more careful than what they did last time…

      It was one of the rare occasions where everyone on here agreed with each other – this was clearly not a legit company and there was no chance Haas were going to see all the money they were promised.

      Haas are the F1 equivalent of people who respond to an email from a Nigerian prince promising to send you £50m providing you prove your ID by sending them your credit card details…

      1. @petebaldwin F1 has actually seen a case of “a Nigerian prince promising to send you £50m providing you prove your ID by sending them your credit card details” in the form of Arrows and the person styling themselves as Prince Malik (although, in their case, it’s not clear if it was more of a case of gross incompetence).

        You’re right that the whole Rich Energy affair was one of those few occasions when pretty much everybody here agreed on something, which is that this wasn’t going to end well. Watching it unfurl was a bit like watching a drunken friend trying to juggle a dozen eggs – you know that it is going to end in a hideous mess, but you feel compelled to watch to see quite how badly it is going to turn out.

    10. And just as you thought the bearded wonder had gone away with his tail between his legs, it was announced recently that the OMG motorcycle team (BSB, TT & roads) have welcomed a new sponsor … Rich Energy !!
      OMG are no fly by night mob either – they have won in BSB.

      https://www.bikesportnews.com/news/news-detail/rich-energy-unveiled-as-omg-racing-title-sponsor

      Wonders will never cease….

      1. OMG, as in Oh My God, how could we be so stupid.

        1. I don’t know for certain but looking online, it appears they didn’t have a title sponsor last year so I guess it’s a case of “probably nothing” vs “definitely nothing”

          1. Or they said … “money up front ZZ Top, we’ve heard about you.”

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