Drivers Romain Grosjean (left) and Kevin Magnussen pose with the new black-and-gold Haas. Picture: REUTERS
Drivers Romain Grosjean (left) and Kevin Magnussen pose with the new black-and-gold Haas. Picture: REUTERS

The Haas Formula One team transformed their old grey livery into a sleek black and gold look at a launch late last week while a new, if little-known, energy drink title sponsor talked about taking on Red Bull.

The US-owned outfit have signed a deal with British-based Rich Energy, a start-up depicted by entrepreneur front man William Storey as a David ready to take on the Goliath of the industry.

“We are looking forward to taking on Red Bull, on and off the track,” said Storey after the covers came off the team’s rebranded car in the grand foyer of London’s exclusive Royal Automobile Club.

“I’m full of admiration for Red Bull, they’re a very good business, but we feel we’ve got a compelling proposition, a better brand. And now we feel going toe-to-toe with them in Formula One gives us a narrative and a wider platform to really grow,” he told Reuters.

Team principal Guenther Steiner said Ferrari-powered Haas, fifth of 10 teams last year, were a good fit as relative newcomers also “trying to take on the big boys”.

Austrian-based Red Bull spend an estimated $400m annually on their two Formula One teams - ninth-placed junior outfit Toro Rosso and former champions Red Bull Racing, third last year.

Haas entered the sport in 2016 and have yet to score a podium finish.

The new livery revived memories of now-defunct Lotus teams that also raced in black and gold.

Haas’s experienced French driver Romain Grosjean, who raced and stood on the podium for the most recent Lotus team, welcomed the new paint job.

“I love those colours, they are very iconic in motorsport,” he told Reuters.

“Let’s hope we’re not bankrupt when we stand on the podium,” he joked. “That was an interesting time. I think with Haas and Rich Energy we’re in a different league in that aspect.”

Rich Energy tried to buy Force India, to some scepticism from F1 insiders, when that team went into administration last year and were also in talks with struggling former champions Williams.

The 2019 Formula One season starts with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 17.

Tobacco giant BAT returns to F1 with McLaren

British American Tobacco (BAT), which had its own Formula One team before selling to Honda in 2006, is returning to the sport under a multiyear global partnership with McLaren.

Both sides said in a statement announcing the deal on Monday that the partnership will focus solely on BAT’s “potentially reduced risk products” with an emphasis on technology and innovation.

“McLaren Applied Technologies will work with BAT on areas including battery technology and advanced materials,” it added.

Tobacco advertising was widespread in Formula One until a ban in 2006 led most teams to kick the habit and seek sponsors elsewhere.

Ferrari’s partnership with Philip Morris International, whose Mission Winnow initiative focuses on smoke-free “heat not burn” products and is the team’s title sponsor, has been going for more than 40 years, however.

BAT, the world’s second-biggest international tobacco company by revenue, bought Tyrrell in 1997 and competed as British American Racing (BAR) from 1999 to the end of 2005 when Honda took over.

Honda then quit at the end of 2008, handing over to principal Ross Brawn who led them to victory in both championship under his own name in 2009.

In 2010 they became Mercedes, who have won both titles for the past five years. 

Reuters

The decade-old Knysna Hillclimb has grown into one of SA’s premier motorsport lifestyle events. This year’s Hillclimb takes place from May 2 to 5. Picture: SUPPLIED
The decade-old Knysna Hillclimb has grown into one of SA’s premier motorsport lifestyle events. This year’s Hillclimb takes place from May 2 to 5. Picture: SUPPLIED

Kynsna gears up for 10th Simola Hillclimb

Created from humble beginnings as an initiative to attract renewed interest and tourism to the scenic coastal town of Knysna, the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb has evolved to become one of SA’s premier motorsport lifestyle events.

This year, from May 2 to 5, the Hillclimb celebrates its milestone 10th edition and the sixth with Jaguar as title sponsor.

The Hillclimb was conceived and created by Knysna residents Ian Shrosbree, Chick Ramsay and Francis Cusens, with competitors racing their cars up the Simola Hill leading up to the Golf and Country Estate.

“The first Hillclimb was a great success so we mapped out our vision and strategy to make it the Goodwood Festival of Speed of South Africa that would attract international interest,” says Shrosbree.

The event has grown to become the must-attend motoring event of the year for competitors and spectators alike.

The inaugural 2009 event has 47 entrants competing in a single class, with motor racing legend Sarel van der Merwe taking the title in an Ashley Masters V8. Another motorsport icon, Geoff Mortimer, emerged victorious in the wet 2010 event in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, with Wilhelm Baard stamping his authority, as well as that of the mighty Nissan R35 GT-R, on the Hillclimb the following year.

Having to accommodate a burgeoning entry list, the event was split into two categories in 2012 and became a strictly invitational event from 2016, limited to 65 entries for Classic Car Friday, and 84 for King of the Hill.

The number of spectators has soared from 1,500 to almost 17,000 over the three days.