During its six-year stint in Formula 1, Haas has had a far from smooth ride, with the team seemingly making the headlines at some stage in a season.
In their debut campaign, Haas’ rivals complained that their car built by Dallara was a copy of the 2015 Ferrari, and although the FIA gave the team the benefit of the doubt, the accusations of Ferrari’s influence in Haas’ designs continued.
Regardless of the accusations, Haas continued to punch above its weight, and in 2018, they were narrowly pipped to fourth in the constructors’ championship by Renault, a considerable achievement considering that the Anglo-French team’s level of investment was much higher than Haas’.
The 2019 F1 season saw the arrival of a new title sponsor, the mysterious and unknown Rich Energy, a company led by William Storey, a self-confessed petrolhead and a man with ambitions to challenge Red Bull.
The new black and gold coloured cars may have looked the part, but that didn’t translate to better results on the track, with Haas losing ground to its midfield rivals. Worse still, Storey was involved in several legal disputes, and after the 2019 Italian Grand Prix, the partnership finally ended.
Rich Energy’s departure would usher in two more title sponsors, so with the Dallas-based Moneygram company taking over from Uralkali in 2023, the question is how Haas got to this stage and whether it will be third time lucky for a team that’s previously been hard-bitten by other title sponsors.
Enter and exit Uralkali
After a turbulent 2020 season that saw the team nearly go bankrupt during the Covid-19 pandemic, Haas secured yet another title sponsor for 2021 with Russian fertiliser company Uralkali owned by Dimitry Mazepin, over from Rich Energy.
Even though the driver lineup consisted of Mazepin’s son Nikita and 2020 Formula 2 champion Mick Schumacher, Haas suffered a turbulent 2021 season, failing to score a point.
Already a lightning rod for controversy, Mazepin did nothing to improve the team’s fortunes and was frequently off the pace compared to Schumacher with the pair nearly coming together several times that season forcing Steiner into firefighting mode.
But hopes were high going into 2022, and the new Haas VF-22 looked strong in pre-season testing at Barcelona. However, just as it seemed, things were finally going to plan events over 7,000 km away would put Haas’ plans into chaos.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had dire consequences for the team, and that was due to Mazepin’s close relations with President Vladimir Putin, with Mazepin senior appearing at a meeting of businessmen held by Putin at the Kremlin just days after tanks arrived in Ukraine.
As a result, Haas removed all Uralkali branding and shortly after the Barcelona test Haas completely cut ties with Uralkali dumping Mazepin in the process.
Although Mazepin’s replacement Kevin Magnussen got the team off to a dream start in Bahrain, but Haas could not develop the VF-22.
With a series of crashes costing the team millions of dollars, Haas suddenly found themselves on a shoestring budget as they dropped back through the midfield.
The team had been chasing a new title sponsor all season, but after months of waiting, Haas finally secured a new title sponsor for 2023 and beyond, on the eve of the 2022 United States Grand Prix weekend.
Step forward Moneygram a money transfer company based in Dallas that operates in over 200 countries and employs over 2,000 people across the globe.
Unlike Rich Energy, whose revenue was not public knowledge at the time of the deal with Haas being irked, Moneygram’s 2019 revenue hit $900 million, and the company was recently brought out by private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners for $1 billion in February of this year clearing all of the company’s debts in the process.
What does it mean for Haas?
Moneygram’s arrival also brings stability to a team desperately trying to get back to the lofty heights of 2018, and with the company signing a multi-year deal starting next year, it might just be the booster that Haas needed to help expand their operations.
Formula 1’s smallest team has been lagging behind its midfield rivals for some time, and with both parties gaining significantly through the partnership, Moneygram would gain more exposure whilst Haas would enjoy financial stability helping the team through what looks likely to be a tough financial year.
What also helps Haas is that Moneygram’s investment will help the team operate at the budget cap level and spend the same amount as other teams, which they’ve struggled to do over the past two years.
Suppose Moneygram’s partnership with Haas leads to on-track success. In that case, it could help inspire other American companies to take the plunge and invest in Formula 1 at a time when America is rapidly embracing the sport.
Haas still has a long way to go before they’re challenging the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes for race wins, but the new investment from Moneygem might put them on the road to success and to be finally recognised as America’s Formula 1 team.