Dietrich Mateschitz tributes pour in after passing of Red Bull co-owner

Jamie Woodhouse
Dietrich Mateschitz hugs Max Verstappen. Austria, July 2018.

Dietrich Mateschitz hugs Red Bull driver Max Verstappen. Austria, July 2018.

Tributes have been arriving from across the grid as the passing of Red Bull Racing founder Dietrich Mateschitz was announced.

A layer of sadness hung over the Circuit of The Americas as the start of qualifying approached, news reaching the paddock that Mateschitz had passed at the age of 78.

The Austrian multi-billionaire had a profound influence on Formula 1, creating two teams in Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso, the latter now known as AlphaTauri, with a plethora of drivers having made their mark with those teams in Formula 1, the same true for when Mateschitz was a co-owner of Sauber.

Red Bull principal Christian Horner, who has held that post since the team was founded in 2005, hailed Mateschitz as the “backbone” of everything Red Bull do when he spoke to Sky Sports F1 shortly after the news came to light.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff referred to Mateschitz as “one of the greatest and most visionary entrepreneurs” that the world has seen, while adding that he left an “unprecedented” mark on Formula 1.

“It is with great sadness that we have learned of the passing of one of the greatest and most visionary entrepreneurs in the world,” said Wolff of his fellow Austrian Mateschitz.

“What Dietrich Mateschitz did for Formula 1 is unprecedented – and we send our deepest condolences to his family and friends.”

Alfa Romeo, operated by Mateschitz’s former team Sauber, said: “Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN are saddened by the news of the passing away of Dietrich Mateschitz.

“Our thoughts and sympathy are with Dietrich’s family and friends at this moment, as well as with everyone at Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri.”

Ferrari paid their respects to Mateschitz, a person who the team said “loved our sport and challenges”.

“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Dietrich Mateschitz. A man who loved our sport and challenges,” their statement read.

“On behalf of everyone at Ferrari, we offer our condolences to his family and to our friends at Red Bull and AlphaTauri. Our thoughts are with them all.”

Red Bull’s two-time World Champion Max Verstappen spoke of the impact that Mateschitz had on not only his racing career, but his life in general.

“I find it really incredible what he has done,” Verstappen told Sky Sports F1. “To be such a big race fan and really wanting your brand to succeed and what they have done already in the past and what they are doing now, and just seeing how much he was enjoying it as well is just really incredible.

“And luckily I got to spend a little bit of time with him a few weeks back, which now is even more special, he was super sweet and super caring so it’s a big loss for all of us.

“And also for me personally without him I wouldn’t be here today, what he has done for me in Formula 1 but also for my whole life and for the future ahead is massive, so I can’t thank him enough for that and that’s why it’s a very difficult day for us.”

Daniel Ricciardo, who rose through the ranks in F1 with Toro Rosso and then Red Bull, said he was one of many who owe Mateschitz a debt of gratitude.

“I’m one of thousands of Red Bull athletes that has so much to thank him for,” said Ricciardo after qualifying.

“Even since 2018 we kept in touch, he didn’t like the limelight, but if I heard he was at the circuit I’d try to go and see him.”

Aston Martin added: “Our condolences go out to the entire Red Bull family and, of course, the friends and family of Dietrich Mateschitz following the sad news of his passing today. A great man whose impact on our sport cannot be overstated. Rest in peace.”

Read more: Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz dies, aged 78