Dietrich Mateschitz, a co-owner of Red Bull and a prominent player in the energy drink industry, passed away at the age of 78.
Mateschitz was the impetus behind the creation of the energy drink that rose to the top of the worldwide market.
He established a Formula 1 team that has grown to be one of the sport's dominant powers using the riches that resulted from that.
Red Bull's team principal Christian Horner expressed his sadness, saying, he was a great man.
"What he achieved and what he has done for so many people, around the world in different sports, is second to none."
Moments after Mateschitz's passing was reported, Horner told Sky Sports that his team was committed to "do our best for him" in qualifying and Sunday's race at the US Grand Prix.
"So many of us have to be so grateful to him for the opportunities he provided and the vision that he had, the strength of character and never being afraid to chase your dreams."
"That's what he did here in Formula 1, proving that you can make a difference. We're just incredibly grateful."
When Max Verstappen of Red Bull won the Japanese Grand Prix two weeks ago, Horner noted that Mateschitz was "thankfully" able to witness the Dutch driver secure his second consecutive world championship.
Horner continued, "He was very proud of the team."
It is not believed that Mateschitz's passing poses a danger to Red Bull or its affiliated squad Alpha Tauri's future.
Stefano Domenicali, the CEO of Formula 1, expressed his "deeply saddened" and described Mateschitz as "a hugely respected and much-loved member of the Formula 1 family"
The Italian 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 all around the world."
While traveling in Thailand, Austrian Mateschitz, a salesman for Procter & Gamble, came upon Krating Daeng, the beverage that would eventually become Red Bull.
Together with the product's creator, Thai Chaleo Yoovidhya, he co-founded Red Bull in 1984. In 1987, the Red Bull brand was introduced, and over time, it grew to become the largest energy drink in the world, earning him an estimated $25 billion in wealth.
As a result, Red Bull became involved as a sponsor in numerous extreme sports, including mountain biking, cliff diving, surfing, and winter sports.
His involvement in Formula One began with the Swiss-based Sauber team, of which Red Bull became a 60% shareholder, before the two parted ways as a result of a disagreement over driver selection – Mateschitz wanted Sauber to select Red Bull protege Enrique Bernoldi, but Sauber instead chose the inexperienced Finn Kimi Raikkonen for his debut season in 2001.
Three years later, Red Bull hired former Formula 2 driver Christian Horner as team principal, acquired the struggling Jaguar team from owner Ford, rebranded it, and hired Adrian Newey, the top design engineer in the industry, as technical director for a $10 million salary.
They started the process of making Red Bull a dominant force, becoming the quickest team in F1 by 2009, and in 2010, with the help of the German Sebastian Vettel, won their first drivers' and constructors' titles. This was the first of the team's four straight championship doubles.
Red Bull expanded its involvement in sports to include football, purchasing teams in Leipzig, Brazil, New York/New Jersey MetroStars, Campinas, Austria, Ghana, and the city closest to Mateschitz's home in Fuschl am See, Austria. It also founded a club in Ghana and acquired an ice hockey team in Munich.
Red Bull developed a reputation for fusing Newey's creative brilliance and competitiveness with a cutthroat, aggressive attitude toward all aspects of the sport, from exploiting technical grey areas to taking an abrasive stance against rule-makers and competitors and relishing the role as disruptors.
When turbo-hybrid engines first appeared in 2014, their reign of terror came to an abrupt end, and Mercedes seized the initiative.
Red Bull kept making competitive vehicles, but its Renault engines limited their ability to compete. They were preparing the groundwork for their return to the front while doing so.
Verstappen was signed up by Mateschitz's right-hand man in motorsport, Helmut Marko, in 2014, midway through his rookie season of auto racing. Verstappen became the youngest driver to compete in a grand prix weekend when, at the age of 17, he received a Toro Rosso for first practice at the Japanese Grand Prix.
Verstappen was hired by the Toro Rosso team in 2015, which was once known as Alpha Tauri and is now called for a group fashion brand. By the fifth race of 2016, he had been promoted to Red Bull, and on his first outing with the senior team, he won the Spanish Grand Prix.
Red Bull became more competitive after ending their engine association with Renault and partnering with Honda in 2019, and in 2021 they had their first vehicle that was totally competitive since 2013.
Verstappen used it against Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes in one of the most competitive championship races in F1 history. The Red Bull driver ultimately won after a contentious finish in which he passed Hamilton to win the race after the FIA race director broke the rules during a late safety-car period.
Verstappen led Red Bull to become the dominating team after the introduction of new rules in 2022, which culminated in his decisive push to a second world championship.
Mateschitz, while being a reclusive man who avoided publicity, rose to become one of the sport's most important power brokers throughout his time in F1.
While doing so, he promoted regional arts and crafts to revitalize Styria, his home region in Austria. Additionally, he founded the Wings For Life foundation to support spinal cord research.
In both international business and motorsport, he left a lasting impact. But even though Chalerm Yoovidhya, the eldest son of Chaleo and said to be the Red Bull main shareholder all along, is supposed to be an F1 aficionado, his death unavoidably creates open-ended questions about all facets of the company.
By fLEXI tEAM