Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz dies aged 78

2022 F1 season

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Dietrich Mateschitz, the billionaire whose Red Bull energy drinks business has grown into one of the biggest sponsors in motorsport, has died at the age of 78, following a long illness.

Red Bull’s presence in Formula 1 alone includes two teams: the eponymous championship-winning squad and its sister squad based in Italy, named after the company’s fashion label AlphaTauri. It also holds a round of the world championship at the Red Bull Ring, while its Servus TV channel has the rights to broadcast the sport in Austria.

It also runs Junior Teams to develop future motor racing talent in single-seaters and off-road motorsport. The brand’s logos can be found across many other championships on two and four wheels.

Mateschitz, who co-founded Red Bull in 1984 with Chaleo Yoovidhya after discovering the recipe for the drink in Thailand, began using motorsport to promote the brand soon after it went on sale. Gerhard Berger became the first driver to be sponsored by the company in 1987.

Red Bull increased its presence in F1 when it took over as the title sponsor of the Sauber Formula 1 team in 1995. By the early noughties Mateschitz was looking elsewhere and after considering a takeover of Jordan he opted to buy the Jaguar team, which Ford had put up for sale in 2004. He asked Arden team founder Christian Horner, who had taken Vitantonio Liuzzi to the Formula 3000 title that year, to meet him in Salzburg and offered him the job of running his new F1 team.

While Horner built Red Bull Racing into a championship-winning force, Mateschitz pounced on the opportunity to buy another F1 team the following year. He transformed Minardi into Toro Rosso – Italian for ‘Red Bull’ – to serve as a finishing school for its future champions. By 2010 Sebastian Vettel, an early graduate of Toro Rosso, had become the first driver to win the world championship in a Red Bull.

That began a string of title wins for Vettel and Red Bull which wasn’t halted until 2014, when new power unit rules were introduced to F1 and Mercedes came to the fore. Red Bull finally ended their uninterrupted title run last year when Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to the world championship in a controversial finale.

Verstappen took his second title in dominant fashion this year, clinching the crown with four races to spare at Suzuka. Red Bull is poised to win its first constructors championship since 2013 at the Circuit of the Americas this weekend.

Mateschitz has only occasionally appeared in person to witness his team’s success, and had not been seen in an F1 paddock for several years. Widely considered one of the world’s wealthiest individuals, his fortune was estimated at being in excess of $15 billion (£13bn).

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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15 comments on “Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz dies aged 78”

  1. Thanks Dieter for all you have given motorsport (and other sports too) and the Styria region.

    1. Dietrich, off course. Sorry.

  2. Will Red Bull continue spending so much money in F1 after his death?

    1. I think they will. RB is very connected to sports, not only F1, for their branding. They will continue that.

      RIP for Dietrich.

      1. It has clearly seemed to be working for the brand. Though without the founder’s passion, perhaps it might change in magnitude and drive.

        Still, one thing Mateschitz seemed to have done very well in several sports is get solid teams set up, like AT and Red Bull are in F1. Even if this sad news means some of those teams stop being owned by Red Bull over time, I’d expect them to remain active and consistently solid for a good while after.

  3. IMO he came to F1’s assistance in dire circumstances when he took on Toro Rosso.

  4. Respect.

  5. It happens often that when rich CEO’s personally love a sport and decide to invest in it, they either get bored with it after a while or they start to micro manage it to their own likings, only to find out that managing a company is different from managing a sports team.
    Mateschitz, I feel, was neither of the two. Thinking about the team’s origins, Stewart Grand Prix and then Jaguar, it shows how far the team came ever since Red Bull got involved. Just by hiring the right people and taking it step by step. Look at the trophy cabinet or how the Milton Keynes campus has expanded to see how that worked out for them.
    CEO’s of big car manufacturers come and go, some are more into racing, others aren’t. Mateschitz was a continuous factor of support in F1 and for that alone already he will be missed.

    1. Well put Ruben, he had passion, but hired people to make sure it was a success and gave them space to work too, it seems. Not just the two teams, but of course also the Austrian GP, which is on the whole one of the best organized GP’s I’ve been to. He meant a lot to the Styrian part of Austria too.

  6. I think he had a big positive effect on Motorsport.

  7. I think it was nice that he was able to see Max clinch his second WDC. RIP.

  8. RIP, a huge loss for motorsports, this guy really embodies the passion and love for motorsports and backs it with money which has such a positive effect.

  9. his love of F1 helped turn a failing Jaguar team into a competitive Red Bull one

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