Haas’ new-look livery for 2019 — a blend of black and gold made famous by Lotus in previous eras — came with bold proclamations from the team’s newest financial backer.
The American team has dropped the red, grey and black colours associated with owner Gene Haas’ company, Haas Automation, in favour of those of new title sponsor Rich Energy, a new and little-known energy drinks company from London.
Haas enjoyed its most successful season last year, finishing fifth behind the well-backed Renault outfit, during which it confirmed its new title partnership.
An energy drink joining Formula One is nothing new — beyond Red Bull’s two teams, Monster is affiliated with Mercedes, while Hype has a deal with Force India. But Rich Energy CEO Williams Storey has lofty aspirations for his company, which he claims has a presence in 43 countries and has sold 90 million cans.
“We are looking forward to taking on Red Bull, on and off the track,” he said at the launch event. “I’m full of admiration for Red Bull, they’re a very good business, but we feel we’ve got a compelling proposition, a better brand.”
He added: “There’s been an awful lot of talk of ownership, previous regime and the future, but ultimately it’s going to remain the pinnacle long term. It has a brand value, F1, which I think is unprecedented in sport. Therefore for us it’s a great platform and we intend to being in F1 long, long term.”
Rich Energy was linked with a bid to purchase Force India last year but when that was unsuccessful, Storey turned his attention towards title sponsorship. He felt Haas, which has retained a close technical and engine partnership with Ferrari since joining the grid in 2016, has the best business model going.
“Haas absolutely are a dream partner for us. They are a David taking on Goliaths in Formula One and we are the same in the drinks business.
“By every metric, they were vastly superior [to anyone else considered]. In terms of they’re uniquely positioned to exploit regulation changes. They’re run in a very, very unpretentious fashion, they’re proper racers, Gene Haas is a wonderful businessman who is approaching motor racing in the right way, [they have a ] brilliant team principal and they’ve got two drivers with personality, which I think is superb.”
Storey brushed off apprehension about his business claims, stating “the numbers speak for themselves” when asked about his lofty evaluation of Rich Energy’s success so far.