Dietrich Mateschitz: Influential Red Bull founder and owner dies aged 78
Dietrich Mateschitz, the hugely influential Austrian businessman who founded Red Bull and enjoyed huge success in sport, has died at the age of 78 after a long battle with illness; Christian Horner hails "remarkable man, an inspiration, and one that we owe a huge amount"
Last Updated: 23/10/22 12:25am
Red Bull founder and owner Dietrich Mateschitz has died at the age of 78.
Mateschitz was an influential Austrian businessman who founded the energy drinks company and then brought it to Formula 1 with huge success, winning four straight double world titles from 2010 to 2013.
His passing, which comes after a battle with a long illness, was confirmed just before qualifying at the United States GP, with a sombre Red Bull team seemingly told the news together in the paddock.
"It is very, very sad," said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner. "What a great man.
"We are just incredibly grateful for him and everything he has done, everything he has supported us with over the years and so many drivers, so many team members, so many people in this pitlane owe him so much.
"It is important that we celebrate and recognise the contribution that he has made. Quite a remarkable man, an inspiration, and one that we owe a huge amount."
Max Verstappen, after qualifying third, added: "It has been hard news, I think, for everyone.
"What he has meant for Red Bull but also the sport and especially what he has done for me in terms of my career so far and in general my life."
Mateschitz, after discovering an energy drink on a trip to Thailand, launched the Red Bull brand in 1984 and turned it into a world market leader before bringing success into the sporting world in the 21st century.
Red Bull entered Formula 1 with Sauber before buying the Jaguar team in 2004 and renamed it Red Bull Racing. He then bought Minardi a year later, who became a Red Bull junior team in Toro Rosso, and are now called AlphaTauri.
Mateschitz also notably acquired football clubs, with Austrian team Red Bull Salzburg, New York Red Bull (USA) and RB Leipzig (Germany) bought by Red Bull.
Red Bull have enjoyed success in all formats, particularly F1.
The team claimed their first victory in 2009 and their first titles a year later, as Sebastian Vettel claimed the drivers' crown and Red Bull won the constructors' title.
Red Bull went on to secure clean sweeps of the next three championships, and have remained one of F1's top teams since. Max Verstappen ended a drivers' crown drought in 2021 and claimed it again this season, and the team are likely to wrap up the constructors' title at this weekend's US GP.
"He is few of a kind," added Horner. "What he achieved and what he has done for so many people, across different sports is second to none.
"So many of us have to be so grateful to him for the opportunities he has provided, for the vision that he had, the strength of character and never being afraid to follow your dreams and chase your dreams.
"That is what he did here in Formula 1, proving that you can make a difference."
Tributes flood in for Mateschitz
"It is really sad news," said Sky Sports F1 pundit Martin Brundle. "He was a wonderful man for motorsport. He loved motorsport.
"He has been incredibly generous and incredibly good to motorsport and motorsport has been good to the Red Bull brand as well.
"He was a very lovely man, a very private man as well.
"He never wanted to be in the spotlight at all, he always wanted to be behind the scenes but wow, he has achieved a lot in his life."
Formula 1 chief Stefano Domenicali said: "I am deeply saddened by the news that Dietrich Mateschitz, a hugely respected and much-loved member of the Formula 1 family has passed away.
"He was an incredibly visionary entrepreneur and a man who helped to transform our sport and created the Red Bull brand that is known all around the world.
"I will miss him greatly, as will the whole community in Formula 1, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and the Red Bull and AlphaTauri teams at this very sad time."
Explaining Mateschitz's huge impact on sport
Sky Sports News reporter Craig Slater
"F1 was very close to his heart. He took a close, hands-on [approach], although you didn't often see him in the Formula 1 paddock.
"There had been rumours about his ill health for several weeks now and it's sad to have it confirmed now that he has passed on. Absolutely you struggle to put into correct terminology the contribution he made to Formula 1 over the last decade and a half.
"We could talk about his wider sporting contribution, a big impact on European and North American football, New York Red Bull, RB Leipzig, Red Bull Salzburg, ice hockey teams as well. I visited Red Bull Salzburg a few years ago and there was the same attention to detail in terms of bringing through young talent and looking after them properly very apparent at that football team as well as in his F1 operation. An amazing academy, he linked to local schools to make sure that everyone who came through there got a good education as well as an opportunity within sport as well.
"An interesting individual on a personal basis, a private man. He did have that slightly eccentric, adventurous billionaire feel about his persona. Had lots of interests.
"He's put the Red Bull racing team on a firm foundation. They're financially self-sufficient. I think they will carry on and be able to maintain the level of success they've been at even now the owner has passed.
"Sometimes there's anxiety about one individual 'making sport their plaything'. We hear a lot about that. In Dietrich Mateschitz's case that could not be further from the truth or the reality that he has brought to the sport.
"He has been a benefactor who's thought very carefully about what he's doing in every project he's started he's enabled it to have foundations that will allow it to carry on even after the direct financial contributions he has made won't continue.
"A very benign force I think in European and world sport. He will be very sadly missed at Red Bull."