The Rich Energy Drama May Be Back Once Again

Haas F1 driver Kevin Magnussen at the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend.
Photo: Mark Thompson (Getty Images)

Rich Energy, the mysterious and regularly embattled energy-drink company that adorns the Haas Formula One Team’s race cars, will apparently make a decision on its future as the team’s sponsor soon. But in the meantime, some other interesting things are happening: Rich Energy’s former CEO, who was removed amid countless problems at the company, appears to be back.

On Thursday, Motorsport.com published quotes from Haas F1 team principal Guenther Steiner, who said Rich Energy will make a decision on whether it will continue its Haas F1 partnership sometime soon. Steiner said the decision will be Rich Energy’s, not the decision of the Haas team.

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The story said Steiner met with representatives from Rich Energy Wednesday, and that he’s now waiting for the decision on whether the company wants to continue the partnership. From Motorsport.com:

“It [the situation] has calmed down and now we see where we go from here,” said Steiner, when asked by Motorsport.com about the latest on Rich Energy’s future with the team.

“First we need to be calm and make a rational decision, and then it will be decided. At the moment they [the logos] are on here, as you can see, so they need to decide where they want to go not us.

“It is their decision, and then our one will follow. That should happen in the next week or so, and this time it will happen properly.”

The day the story published, documents filed with Companies House, the UK registrar for companies, showed former Rich Energy CEO William Storey back as a director. Storey was terminated from his role when Rich Energy changed its registered name to “Lightning Volt” in July, amid a whole lot of drama at the company.

The situation Steiner mentioned to Motorsport.com is a saga with many volumes, all accumulated over a short period of time. Rich Energy has a murky and confounding history in general, leading people to wonder how and why its team partnership in such a major motorsport series came about.

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Rich Energy subsequently: went to court with fellow British company Whyte Bikes over its logo; had a bad time there; pulled its logo from the Haas cars for conflicting reasons; tweeted a lot of wild stuff, some of which has been deleted; was preliminarily denied an appeal of its logo court loss; changed its logo online; tweeted that it was terminating its Haas deal over “poor performance” and “PC attitude,” to which Haas responded by saying they were still partners; had a power struggle within the organization itself, seeming to be centered around Storey; tweeted some more; was accused by Whyte Bikes of not paying its roughly $45,000 in court-ordered payments; became Lightning Volt Limited and removed Storey as a director; and then claimed Red Bull was also after the company over trademark infringement for its “Gives You Horns” slogan. The court confirmed the legitimacy of the Red Bull lawsuit documents to Jalopnik.

Storey, in the midst of the later events, claimed Haas was trying to oust him as CEO and provided legal letters to Jalopnik that appeared to be legitimate. Haas declined to comment to Jalopnik on that matter.

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Now, Storey and fellow former director Zoran Terzic are back in the directors listing for Lightning Volt, as of documents dated Aug. 29 on Companies House. That same day, a person by the name of Matthew Bruce Kell was terminated as a director. Kell was appointed the day of the name change to “Lightning Volt,” and the day that Storey and Terzic were terminated. Jalopnik has asked both Storey and Rich Energy about his reappointment in the context of everything, and will update this story if we hear back.

We also asked Whyte Bikes earlier this week about the status of Rich Energy’s court payments, and some of the information, like sales figures, that it was supposed to disclose to Whyte Bikes as a result of the court orders.

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The question here, though, becomes one of Lightning Volt versus Rich Energy. The original registry for Rich Energy became Lightning Volt Limited on July 16, while three days later on July 19, a new Rich Energy filing was formed with the name Steven Weston as its only director.

Jalopnik has asked all three parties—Storey, Rich Energy and the Haas team—which entity remains partnered with it, since the Rich Energy branding remains on its race cars. We have yet to hear back from any, but will update this story if or when we do.

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Until then, it looks like Storey is back in the mix—whatever mix that might be. Strap in and get ready for another round.

Update: Friday, Aug. 30, 2019 at 8:09 a.m. ET: Haas responded to Jalopnik, sending Steiner’s full audio from the interview that appears to have been quoted by Motorsport.com. The team said aside from that, it has no further comment.

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Past the quotes Motorsport.com published about continuing the deal being Rich Energy’s decision, Steiner was asked about whether that decision will be about the remainder of the season or the full deal, which Rich Energy is apparently not able to contractually terminate until Dec. 1, 2022.

Steiner didn’t comment on the details.

I don’t want to go into the contract,” Steiner said. “It’s more like for them to decide where they are with their company, you know, if it makes sense or not for them to continue. I’m not involved, therefore I cannot comment.

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I wouldn’t be qualified to comment, because I’ve got enough on my plate. I don’t need anybody else’s problems, so we agreed that once they are ready to decide where they want to go, that they tell us what they want to do with us.”

When asked when Haas might know Rich Energy’s decision, Steiner said it will likely be after F1’s round in Italy on Sept. 8.

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“I think it will be after Monza, because Monza is just next week,” Steiner said.It’s very little time to do things properly. Hopefully, we can do things properly and respectfully.”

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Alanis King

Alanis King is a staff writer at Jalopnik.