Haas has raced in Rich Energy livery this season

Silverstone (United Kingdom) (AFP) - Shareholders in the Rich Energy drinks company said on Thursday their sponsorship deal with Formula One team Haas remained in place, contradicting an earlier “rogue” tweet.

In a statement that followed 72 hours of claims and counter-claims, Rich Energy said a message published on Wednesday – terminating the contract – was false.

“Clearly the rogue actions of one individual have caused great embarrassment,” the statement said.

“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 tweet, on their official account, said the company “had terminated our contract with @HaasF1Team for poor performance. We aim to beat @redbullracing & being behind @WilliamsRacing in Austria is unacceptable. The politics and PC attitude in @F1 is also inhibiting our business.”

The beverage firm became Haas’s title sponsor this season and claimed the team would be competing directly with Red Bull on and off the track.

The cars were painted black and gold with Rich Energy branding and the move was backed by a vigorous social media campaign. Yet, after nine races, Haas are ninth in the constructors’ championship and are struggling to live up to those ambitions.

Haas team chief Guenther Steiner responded saying his F1 team would continue to display Rich Energy’s branding.

“I don’t want to put anybody in a difficult situation, but I cannot say anything (more) about it,” he told reporters.

“It’s part of the job,” said Steiner. “You can do without it, but it’s not like I’m staying up at night thinking about it. We get on with our job.

He said that Rich Energy’s social media post had been “a surprise” to him.

Rich Energy quickly supported him.

“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,” said the British brand.

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

“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.”