Dietrich Mateschitz, co-founder and owner of Red Bull, has died at the age of 78.
Red Bull confirmed Mateschitz’s passing ahead of qualifying for the United States Grand Prix, where the team can claim their fifth F1 constructors’ title.
Mateschitz founded Red Bull in the mid-1980s and turned the energy drink into a market leader, while showcasing the brand through a range of extreme sports.
Having initially been involved in F1 with Sauber in the 1990s and early 2000s, Mateschitz bought the Jaguar squad at the end of 2004 and rebranded it as a full-blown Red Bull team for the 2005 season.
He then bought the Minardi squad, renaming it Toro Rosso for 2006 and using the team as a vehicle to train promising drivers for the works Red Bull operation.
Steadily building up their operation over the following years, while signing the likes of design guru Adrian Newey and promoting the first of many Red Bull-backed drivers in Sebastian Vettel, pole positions, victories and world titles would ultimately flow.
Indeed, Vettel racked up four successive drivers’ titles from 2010 to 2013, with Red Bull also taking the constructors’ crowns in each of those years.
After a lean spell upon the arrival of F1’s turbo-hybrid era, a meeting with Honda led to another winning period, their latest star driver, Max Verstappen, claiming the 2021 and 2022 drivers’ titles, with the 2022 constructors’ set to follow.
As it stands, Red Bull have scored 79 pole positions, 89 race wins, six drivers’ titles and four constructors’ titles in F1.
Stefano Domenicali, President and CEO of Formula 1, 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 incredible visionary entrepreneur and a man who helped 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.”
Speaking to Sky Sports F1, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner added: “It’s very, very sad. What a great man – he’s few of a kind. What he has achieved and what he’s done for so many people around the world, across different sports, is second to none.
“So many of us have to be so grateful to him for the opportunities he’s provided and the vision he had, the strength of character [he had], and never being afraid to follow dreams, and chase dreams. That’s what he did here in F1, proving that you can make a difference.
“We’re just incredibly grateful for him, everything that he’s done, everything that he’s supported us with over the years. So many drivers, so many team members, so many people in this pit lane owe him so much.”
Asked what Verstappen’s recent title win would have meant to Mateschitz, Horner added: “Well, thankfully he got to see that. He was incredibly proud of the team, incredibly proud of everything we’ve done and have been achieving, and he’s been a passionate supporter and the backbone of everything that we do.”