Tributes have been paid to Dietrich Mateschitz, owner and co-founder of sports drink company Red Bull, who has died aged 78.
In addition to making his energy drink the market leader, the Austrian billionaire also founded one of the most successful Formula One teams in recent history.
His death was announced by the company on Saturday, ahead of qualifying for the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, where the Red Bull team could win a fifth F1 constructors’ title.
“What he achieved and what he did for so many people around the world, in different sports, is second to none,” Red Bull F1 team principal Christian Horner told Sky Sports F1.
“Many of us have to thank him for the opportunities he gave us, for his vision, for his strength of character and for never being afraid to follow and chase your dreams.
“That’s what he did here in Formula One, proving that you can make a difference… he owes so many drivers, so many teammates, so many people this pit job.”
In 2004, Mateschitz bought Ford’s Jaguar team and renamed it Red Bull Racing the following season.
By 2010 the team dominated the sport, with Sebastian Vettel winning the first of four consecutive drivers’ championships. The team also won the constructors’ title in each of those years.
The Austrian also bought the Italian Minardi F1 team and renamed it Toro Rosso in 2006, Italian for Red Bull. The team now competes as AlphaTauri, the company’s fashion brand, and is the starting point for the sport for young drivers.
After being dominated by Mercedes in recent years, Red Bull are back at the top of the grid with Max Verstappen sealing his second title at the Japanese Grand Prix earlier this month.
“I think it’s really unbelievable what he’s done,” Verstappen, who made his F1 debut with Toro Rosso, told Sky Sports.
“Luckily, I got to spend some time with him a few weeks ago, of course he’s even more special now.
“It’s a big loss for everyone. Without him I wouldn’t be here today. What he has done for me, in Formula 1, but also for my whole life and future is incredible. I can’t thank him enough for that and that’s why it’s a very difficult day for us.”
“I knew he was feeling bad for the last few weeks, but to get the news today was very sad,” former Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz told Sky Sports.
“I want to send all my condolences to the Red Bull family, but also to the family I know in particular.
“He’s been a very important guy for me and without him I wouldn’t be in Formula 1.”
Formula One CEO Stefano Domenicali said in a statement: “I am deeply saddened by the news that Dietrich Mateschitz, a much-respected and much-loved member of the Formula One family, has passed away.
“A tremendous visionary entrepreneur and the man who helped transform our sport and created the world-renowned Red Bull brand.”
Under Mateschitz’s leadership, Red Bull became known for its intensive marketing of extreme sports and events, including the record-breaking edge-of-space skydive in 2012, and expanded sports interest into soccer and ice hockey.