Perhaps this was inevitable with the recent termination of their contract with Haas F1 but Uralkali is seeking a reimbursement of the 2022 sponsorship dollars they invested, as title sponsor, of the team.
“Uralkali intends to protect its interests in line with applicable legal procedures and reserves its rights to initiate judicial proceedings, claim damages and seek repayment of the significant amounts Uralkali had paid for the 2022 Formula 1 season,” the Uralkali statement read.
“As most of the sponsorship funding for the 2022 season has already been transferred to Haas and given that the team terminated the sponsorship agreement before the first race of the 2022 season, Haas has thus failed to perform its obligations to Uralkali for this year’s season. Uralkali shall request the immediate reimbursement of the amounts received by Haas.”
This will be the second time Haas F1 has terminated its sponsorship deal ahead of contractual obligation and both have been messy, public affairs that highlight the unbalanced nature of the investments they’ve accepted.
Some fans have asked for more stringent vetting of F1 sponsors as issues such as these bring the sport into disrepute.
This brings up a larger conversation that we’ve had on our podcast many times over the years and specifically since 2006 when tobacco money was banned from the sport. If you consider that tobacco was the prime sponsor vehicle for F1 and kept millions flowing through the teams, you can see the impact that the ban had on the sport.
As we’ve discussed on the podcast, F1 was hopeful that big tech would take tobacco’s place and while there are tech companies sponsoring at significant levels, the amount of sponsorship investment has not reached the levels that tobacco operated at in the past.
In fact, the entire concept of a title sponsor has been waning since McLaren lost Vodafone. This leaves a major funding gap and it is easy to see how companies like Uralkali and Rich Energy are taken up by small teams like Haas F1 to keep the wheels turning.