Haas signed its first title partnership with the little-known British energy drinks company for 2019, with Rich Energy’s bold statements on social media regularly attracting attention.
Ahead of this weekend’s race at Silverstone, a post on Rich Energy’s Twitter account claimed it had cancelled its sponsorship of Haas, citing “poor performance”, although senior figures within the company are understood to be trying to rescue the deal.
Addressing the media on Thursday at Silverstone, Haas team principal Gunther Steiner said he could not elaborate much on the short statement that had been issued earlier in the day. However, he admitted “it was a surprise” to see the claim from Rich Energy.
Haas’s motorhome and team gear is still adorned with Rich Energy branding and Steiner said it will remain on the car as well.
He said he could not answer would long-term consequences there would be this season after the unexpected announcement – but said work was going on to fully establish the situation.
“I would like to tell you more, and I hope you respect that,” Steiner said when asked by Motorsport.com what he could say. “I don’t want to put anybody in a difficult situation. But I cannot say anything about it.
“They will be on the car this weekend, and then the rest we need to sort out going forward what we’re doing.
“The commercial agreement doesn’t let me talk about it and I don’t want to stir it up any more.”
Steiner described such setbacks as this ahead of one of the team’s home grands prix – the US-owned team’s base is in Banbury – as “part of the job” and that he would not be drawn into “a war of words”.
“It doesn’t upset me, it’s just something I need to deal with next week and I will,” Steiner added.
Haas is enduring a difficult season as its car’s obvious one-lap speed is not translating into race pace.
Despite Rich Energy’s claim that Haas lacks performance, Kevin Magnussen qualified fifth in Austria.
Steiner said Haas’s focus would remain on its on-track efforts this weekend, as the ninth-placed team bids to regain ground in the constructors’ championship.
“You can do without it but it’s not like I’m up at night thinking about it,” he said. “We get on with the job, that’s the important thing, to get the car back where we want to be.
“That is our focus. It’s important but at this moment in time it’s part of the job and we’ve just got to deal with it. We all have things in our jobs we enjoy more and which we enjoy less.”