RED BULL founder, Dietrich Mateschitz, has died at the age of 78 after a long illness – plunging the F1 team into mourning.
The Austrian billionaire businessman, who co-founded the energy drink company in 1984, has seen the company build up a high-profile of sports teams across the world.
Mateschitz – believed to be worth around Â£24bn – was a salesman for Blendax toothpaste when he discovered Krating Daeng, the drink that would later become Red Bull, on his travels.
He owned 49 percent of the energy drinks brand and was the driving force behind its move in to sport.
Red Bull first entered F1 in 1995 in partnership with the Sauber F1 team.
In November 2004, Mateschitz bought the Jaguar Racing team from Ford to create Red Bull Racing.
He appointed Christian Horner that January to run the team, becoming the youngest team principal at the time.
Horner said: “It is very, very sad, what a great man. He is one of a kind. What he has achieved and done for so many people around the world is second to none.”
F1 chief Stefano Domenicali said in a statement: âI am deeply saddened by the news that Dietrich Mateschitz, a hugely respected and much-loved member of the Formula 1 family has passed away.
âHe was an incredible visionary entrepreneur and a man who helped to transform out sport and created the Red Bull brand that is known all around the world.
âI will miss him greatly , as will the whole community in Formula 1, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and Red Bull and AlphaTauri teams at this very sad time.â
Red Bull have won six drivers’ championship and can wrap up a fifth constructors’ championship this weekend in Austin.
Mateschitz also played a key role in Red Bull’s expansion into football.
He founded RB Leipzig in 2009, and has watched the German side become Champions League regulars after a rapid ascent.
Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg, MLS franchise the New York Red Bulls and Brazilian outfit Red Bull Bragantino are also among the company’s portfolio.
Mateschitz also founded German ice hockey Red Bull MÃ¼nchen.
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