Red Bull co-owner Dietrich Mateschitz, a major global business figure, has died at the age of 78 for his energy drink empire.
Mateschitz is the driving force behind establishing the global market leader in energy drinks.
He used the resulting wealth to build a Formula One team that has become one of the sport’s dominant forces.
His death is not thought to threaten the future of Red Bull or its sister team Alpha Tauri.
Austrian Mateschitz was a salesman for the consumer goods company Procter & Gamble when he discovered the Krating Daeng drink that would become Red Bull while traveling in Thailand.
He co-founded Red Bull in 1984 with beverage founder Thai Chaleo Yoovidhya and launched the Red Bull brand in 1987, eventually turning it into the world’s largest energy drink and forging himself a $25 billion fortune.
He began associating the brand with extreme sports such as surfing, cliff diving, winter sports and mountain biking, many of which Red Bull became a sponsor.
His involvement in F1 began with the Swiss-based Sauber team, of which Red Bull became a 60% shareholder, before the two companies parted ways over a dispute over driver selection – Sauber signed the inexperienced for his debut season in 2001 Finn Kimi Raikkonen, when Mateschitz wanted him to choose Red Bull protege Enrique Bernoldi.
Three years later, Red Bull bought the failed Jaguar team from owner Ford and rebranded it, hired former Formula 2 driver Christian Horner as team principal and signed the sport’s top team for a $10 million salary. Lead design engineer Adrian Newey as technical director.
They set out to turn Red Bull into a leading force, becoming the fastest team in F1 by 2009 and winning their first drivers’ and constructors’ championship with German Sebastian Vettel in 2010, the team The first of four consecutive championships.
Red Bull has also expanded its sporting interests into football, buying teams in Salzburg, the city closest to Mattschitz’s home on the lake Fuschl in Austria, Leipzig, Germany, and Metro Stars New York/New Jersey, Brazil Campinas, founded the club in Ghana and took over the ice hockey team in Munich.
Red Bull has built a reputation for combining Newey’s design genius and competitiveness with a ruthless, combative approach to all areas of the sport, from exploiting technical grey areas to rudeness to rule-makers and competitors, As well as revel in the role of saboteurs.
Their dominance came to an abrupt end with the introduction of turbo-hybrid engines in 2014, and Mercedes began their own period of command.
Red Bull continued to produce competitive cars, but was held back by Renault engines. At the same time, they are laying the groundwork for a return to the front lines.
Mateschitz’s right-hand man in motorsport, Helmut Marko, signed Dutch driver Max Verstappen midway through his first racing season in 2014, making him the youngest driver to compete in a weekend Grand Prix when he won the Toro Rosso First practice for the Japanese Grand Prix, 17 years and 3 days.
Verstappen signed for Toro Rosso (formerly Alpha Tauri, now named after the group’s fashion brand) in 2015, and was promoted to Red Bull in the fifth race in 2016, winning the Spanish Grand Prix on his debut for the senior team.
After abandoning its engine partnership with Renault and joining forces with Honda in 2019, Red Bull has become increasingly competitive and in 2021 has its first fully competitive car since 2013.
Verstappen used it against Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in one of the fiercest title races in F1 history, and the Red Bull driver finally won the race in a contested final to overtake Hamilton after F1’s race director defeat , was finally declared the champion in the late safety car for correctly following the rules.
With the new rules coming in 2022, Red Bull is the dominant team, just as they finally did in 2009, the first year of another major rule change.
During this period, Matt Schitz, though a reclusive figure who rarely gave interviews, became one of F1’s most important power brokers.
At the same time, he used his wealth to help him regenerate in Styria, Austria, promoting local crafts and arts. He also founded the Wings For Life charity to help with spinal cord research.
He left a significant legacy in motorsport and global business. But his departure has inevitably left long-term question marks on all sides of the business, even if Chalerm Yoovidhya, the eldest son of Chaleo, who has long been considered a major shareholder in Red Bull, is said to be an F1 enthusiast.