Rich Energy blames ‘rogue individual’ as CEO accuses shareholders of ‘coup’

Kevin Magnussen’s Haas car in Austria

Rich Energy has issued a statement blaming its Haas sponsorship termination tweet on the actions of a ‘rogue individual’ but CEO William Storey has doubled down on the initial communication.

The energy drink company tweeted on Wednesday night (local time) that it was terminating its contract with Haas F1 Team due to the team’s “poor performance” and a “PC attitude” in Formula 1.

In a double twist, a statement subsequently issued by Rich Energy affirmed that it is “fully committed” to Haas before Storey himself, apparently in response to that statement, was quoted on the same Twitter account claiming that he was the target of a shareholder ‘coup’.

The statement, attributed to other shareholders of the company, reads:

“The shareholders who own the majority of Rich Energy, would like to clarify certain statements that have been circulated in the media from an unauthorised source.

“We wholeheartedly believe in the Haas F1 Team, its performance, and the organization as a whole and we are fully committed to the current sponsorship agreement in place. We also completely believe in the product of Formula 1 and the platform it offers our brand.

“Clearly the rogue actions of one individual have caused great embarrassment. We are in the process of legally removing the individual from all executive responsibilities. They may speak for themselves but their views are not those of the company.

“The incident is very regrettable; we will not be making further comment on this commercially sensitive matter and will be concluding it behind closed doors.

“We wish to confirm our commitment to the Haas F1 Team, Formula 1 and to thank the Haas F1 Team for their support and patience whilst this matter is dealt with internally.”

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner had also confirmed that Rich Energy branding, which no longer features its ‘stag’ logo due to a copyright dispute with bicycle manufacturer Whyte Bikes, would remain on the VF-19s, but would not expand on the saga.

“I would like to tell you more, I cannot,” said Steiner.

“I hope you respect that. I don’t want to put anybody in a difficult situation, but I cannot say anything about that.

“They will be on the car this weekend, and then the rest, we need to sort out going forwards what we are doing.

“The commercial agreement doesn’t let me talk about it, and I don’t want to. There’s no point to stir anything more up.”

Storey has since been quoted on Rich Energy’s Twitter page, in its only tweet since that announcing the ‘termination’, apparently attacking those shareholders to whom the company’s statement was attributed, accusing them of an attempted coup.

“The ludicrous statement by minority shareholders cosy with @redbull & @WhyteBikes is risible,” said Storey, according to the tweet.

“Their attempted palace coup has failed. I control all of the assets of @rich_energy & have support of all key stakeholders”

Haas is currently ahead of only Williams in the constructors’ championship, with Practice 1 at Silverstone due to begin tonight at 1900 AEST.

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