I want my American team back

This piece began life as a riff on the pedigree of the new Rich Energy livery. I was going to work in a great joke about how their next big news was going to be signing Pastor Maldonado for 2020 or releasing a bespoke line of co-branded e-cigarettes since we’re already ripping off paying homage to Lotus.

Haas F1 Media
Andrew Ferraro/LAT/Pirelli Media

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You know, the cheap laughs, good for clicks, and safe for me because I’m in Colorado and likely won’t bump into any of you down the pub.

Grand Prix 1970 van Nederland voor Formule I wagens , Zandvoort; Dan Gurney , kop
*21 juni 1970

As I wrote, though, it changed into a meditation on the current state of American participation in Formula One. As an American I feel like I should cheer unreservedly for Gene Haas’ global marketing program Formula One team. After all, apart from a sprinkling of my fellow Americans in positions of influence and authority we’re thin on the ground in motorsport’s pinnacle series. We’ve had a few successful drivers, among them Dan Gurney, Phil Hill, and Mario Andretti (though I suspect the Italians would be glad to claim Andretti as well), but we’ve not produced a significant number of successful teams.

Back in reality, though, Haas F1 Team has mainly been an American team in name and funding. Though headquartered alongside Stewart-Haas Racing in Kannapolis, the staff are based primarily in Marussia’s former Banbury facility and in Varano de’ Melegari, with, y’know, Dallara. Ferrari of course does the engines and whatnot.

While the technical tie-ups with Ferrari and Dallara have sparked a good deal of controversy, the Euro-centric arrangements Gene Haas put in place make a lot of sense given the realities of the sport. Operating primarily from North America would put any team at a significant disadvantage from a purely logistical perspective, to say nothing of the knowledge and infrastructure bases that would have to be built from the ground up. Our home-grown motorsport talent is top notch, but as Honda’s troubled return to the series has shown, Formula One is a whole ‘nother animal. Operating from the UK and Italy just makes sense.

The Rich Energy sponsorship makes it plain that the funding piece is now decidedly less American. I understand this – Formula 1 is an expensive sport the way the ocean is damp. As the old adage goes, it’s a great way to make millionaires out of billionaires.

Emotion, though, doesn’t care quite as much for these facts. While I’ve been a Silver Arrows man since Mercedes took over Brawn GP, and was a staunch Nico Rosberg supporter until his retirement (don’t @ me, I’m of German heritage), I’ve been proud to see Haas on the grid. It hurts to see Rich Energy take pride of place in the branding, despite the large Haas logo on the car.

The cynic in me says that hey, the team was a marketing vehicle for Haas Automation, and it’s clearly fulfilled its goal. This tie-up with Rich Energy looks like a great way for Gene to gently wind up his involvement in Formula One over the course of the next few years.

The very idea that this is might be the strategic plan leaves me feeling sad. Of course teams churn in Formula One – the glamor and history of the series ensure a ready supply of new money to replace the old, and it’s just good sense to buy as much infrastructure and talent as you can. So much the better if you can exit with dignity and pocketbook (mostly) intact.

If we can’t have another AAR, I’d be glad for this Haas to stick around.

Time will tell, I suppose. In the meantime I can’t wait to see the machine on track, driven in anger.

Oh, and the livery? It’s alright, I guess. Lotus wore it well, but I’d have liked to see something new and different from an up and coming energy drinks company.

 

[Featured image – Haas F1 Media]

Haas reveal 2019 F1 livery

The Haas F1 team have today unveiled their livery for the forthcoming 2019 season, introducing a fresh design in what they are calling a ‘New Era’ for the team.

In a contrast to last year’s predominantly white car, the new Haas will be black and gold – similar to the Lotus Renault which raced between 2011 and 2015. The reason for the enticing change is Haas’ new title sponsor, Rich Energy, the company that tried to buy out the financially stricken Force India Team before it was rescued by a consortium lead by Lawrence Stroll. The car, unveiled by drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, is the 2018 car with the new livery and the new front wing design. We will see the complete new 2019 car during winter testing in Barcelona.

William Storey, Rich Energy CEO, described Haas as “the perfect team to try and challenge Red Bull on and off the track”, while French driver Romain Grosjean said the engineers “have been working really hard back at the factory making sure that we have a really good car for the year.” Kevin Magnussen’s typically laid back assessment was that “it looks cool. It looks fast. It looks angry.”

Haas F1 Media

Haas finished last season fifth in the constructors’ standings on 93 points – a 46 point improvement on their performance in 2017 – with Kevin Magnussen scoring 56 points, while an impressive turnaround from a woeful start to the year saw Romain Grosjean end the year on 37 points.

Last year, Haas announced Rich Energy as their title sponsor, and the new livery sees Haas embark on a new partnership and the start of what they hope is a journey to the top of Formula One.

The American team will still have Ferrari as their engine supplier, and will be using the 2019 spec engine.

 

[Featured image – Haas F1 Media]

Rich Energy Drink UK enters the Fray

Rich Energy, a UK Limited company which produces energy drinks much like Red Bull and Monster Energy, has been confirmed for the 2019 season. Haas have signed them as their title sponsor, so the team becomes Rich Energy Haas F1 Team. They had a deal pretty much sealed with Williams but decided to go elsewhere, showing a sign of the times in current F1 racing.

Williams are in need of a title sponsor as Martini are leaving them at the end of the season and this deal was the answer to their woes. They had it confirmed with meetings but nothing written and signed. With a poor 2018 season not helping them, albeit being such a legendary name in F1. Rich Energy have gone elsewhere as Haas can provide more TV time as they are more likely to be at the front of the field. Williams may struggle to get any sponsors, much like Mclaren, which could put financial strain on the team.

Haas, on the other hand, have many stories circulating in the rumour mill for the American team. Is this a true sign of future commitment to the sport? Owner Gene Haas has put forward alot of his own money and with this he could relax as they enter their third season. With Rich Energy’s colour scheme being black and gold, this is going to be a total refresh for the Haas. 

One question that does arise is about finance – with new rules and regulations coming in for 2019 and 2020, do they need the investment to compete? It will be interesting to see what will come of it. Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen have kept their seats for 2019, so familiarity with the team and car could make high finishes and podiums a possibility in 2019. Time will tell.