AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, co-founder of energy drink company Red Bull and founder and owner of the Red Bull Formula One racing team, has died. he was 78 years old.
Red Bull Racing Team officials announced Mateschitz’s death on Saturday at the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.
FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who oversees motorsport, said Mateschitz was “an outstanding figure in motorsport”.
“At this time, the thoughts of the entire FIA family will be with his loved ones and mourning his passing.”
Mateschitz rose to prominence as the public face of the Austrian-Thai conglomerate Red Bull, which sold nearly 10 billion cans of caffeine and taurine-based beverages in 172 countries around the world last year.
Mateschitz not only helped energy drinks become popular around the world, but he also built a sports, media, real estate, and gastronomy empire around the brand.
Red Bull’s success led him to significantly expand his investment in sports, especially motorsport and extreme sports, which now runs a football club, an ice hockey team and a Formula 1 racing team. Red Bull also contracts hundreds of athletes from various sports to offer a deep driver development program to take their racers to the top level.
Max Verstappen, who won his second straight F1 title two weeks ago, said:
Verstappen at Sunday’s Circuit of the Americas will try to tie Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel to an F1-record 13 wins in a single season and also win Red Bull’s Constructors’ Championship.
“What he’s done for me, my career so far and my life in general is really tough. It’s been a really tough day,” Verstappen said. “We still have a race to go and we will try to make him proud tomorrow.”
Mateschitz and Thai investor Chaleo Youvidya founded the company in 1984 after Mateschitz recognized the potential to market Klatin Daeng (another energy drink developed by Chaleo) to Western audiences. Did. According to Red Bull, Mateschitz worked on the formula for three years until 1987, when the improved drink was launched under a new name in his native Austria.
Under Mateschitz’s management, Red Bull rapidly increased its market share, first in Europe and then in the United States. This is thanks to marketing campaigns promoting the drink’s claimed stimulant properties and extensive sponsorship deals in motorsports, football, extreme sports and the music industry.
The Red Bull Racing Team has enjoyed success in Formula 1, winning the Constructors’ Championship in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. German driver Vettel, on the other hand, won his fourth consecutive drivers’ championship while under contract with the team.
Verstappen joined Red Bull’s driver development programme, becoming the youngest ever Grand Prix starter in F1 history when he joined the Junior Toro Rosso team in 2015 at the age of 17. The Dutchman is now F1’s most dominant driver.
“Many of us have to thank him for the opportunities he gave and the vision he had, the strength of his character, his ability to follow his dreams and never be afraid to pursue them. is what he’s done here in F1 and he’s proven he can make a difference,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told Sky Sports F1.
“We are extremely grateful for all he has achieved and for all he has supported us over the years,” added Horner. He’s incredibly proud of the team, incredibly proud of everything we’ve accomplished, and he’s been a passionate supporter and backbone of everything we do. was.
Red Bull operates football teams in the top divisions of Austria, Germany, Brazil and the United States. The company began by acquiring Austrian club SV Austria Salzburg in 2005 and rebranding it in company colors under the name Red Bull his Salzburg.
The same move was repeated in Germany, acquiring a fifth club, SSV Markranstedt, in 2009, rebranding as RasenBallsport Leipzig, and funding steady progress through the league system until promotion to the Bundesliga in 2016. provided. From naming the team Red Bull Leipzig – its name in German, RasenBallsport means ‘glass ball sports Leipzig’, but the club calls itself he RB Leipzig.
Mateschitz also made headlines for his populist views. He has previously criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel for handling the refugee crisis in 2015-16, and his Servus TV station in Austria, owned by Red Bull Media House GmbH, criticized right-wing provocative views. known to spread
Mateschitz bought the Jaguar Racing Team from former owner Ford in late 2004 and renamed it Red Bull for the 2005 season. Later that year he also acquired Minardi, renaming it Toro his Rosso and cleverly used it as a feeder for his team at Red Bull.
Auto racing writer Jenna Fryer and Associated Press sports writer Jerome Pugmire contributed to this report.
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