Red Bull co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz has died at the age of 78 after a long illness.
The Austrian billionaire built a conglomerate under the Red Bull GmbH umbrella, owning 49 percent of the company that distributes energy drinks and has launched numerous subsidiaries including the Red Bull and AlphaTauri Formula 1 teams.
Initially a sponsor in F1 — predominantly with Sauber as well as backing drivers — Mateschitz gave the green light for Red Bull to take over the Jaguar team and become its own constructor in 2005, adding a second team of Toro Rosso — now AlphaTauri — a year later. It has since established its own powertrains company that supplies both teams in partnership with Honda, as well as Red Bull Technologies and a road car project.
From a motorsport perspective, Mateschitz’s brands have sponsored numerous teams and drivers across multiple categories, while he also purchased the Osterreichring in Spielberg, Austria, rebuilding the facility and renaming it the Red Bull Ring as it became the host venue for the Austrian Grand Prix, MotoGP and DTM, among other events.
Team members were informed of the Austrian’s passing in the garage at Circuit of The Americas in the hour before qualifying, with team principal Christian Horner then paying tribute to the team’s owner.
“Desperately sad news that we’ve learned of the passing of Dietrich,” Horner said. “He was a remarkable man — what he’s done for so many, not just in Formula 1 but in the Red Bull business and the Red Bull world across all the sporting platforms…
“He was a man that inspired so much,” the team principal continued. “He is the reason that we are here. It was his passion for Formula 1 and his vision that is the reason he has two teams in the Formula 1 pit lane. He was always enthusiastic, encouraging and supportive on the good days and the bad days.
“So many owe him so much and I feel privileged to have known him and I think for the whole team now, despite the shock, we are going to do exactly what he would have wanted which is to go out there and, with his cars, do the very best that we can and to try and close the constructors’ championship down. It’s important that we recognize everything he has contributed to the sport, but not just the sport because it goes way, way beyond that.
“He’s inspirational. He gave me a chance as a young guy. He backed me and he inspired so many others. He gave so many people an opportunity and encouraging you that nothing is impossible, nothing is unsurpassable and to follow your dreams. He was a fan of Formula 1, he was hugely proud of everything we’ve done and the big thing for him was that he’d want to see us go out there and give it everything. We will be doing that today for him,” Horner concluded.
Mercedes also paid tribute to Mateschitz, with team principal Toto Wolff adding: “It is with great sadness that we have learned of the passing of one of the greatest and most visionary entrepreneurs on the world. What Dietrich Mateschitz did for Formula 1 was unprecedented, and we send our deepest condolences to his family and friends.”
A number of teams issued statements, while F1 president Stefano Domenicali also spoke of his admiration for what the Austrian achieved.
“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,” Domenicali said. “He was an incredible visionary entrepreneur and a man who helped to transform our sport and created the Red Bull brand that is known around the world. I will miss him the 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.”