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Red Bull co-founder and owner of F1 team Dietrich Mateschitz dies at 78


Dietrich Mateschitz, the co-founder of energy drink company Red Bull and founder and owner of the Red Bull Formula One racing team, passed away at the age of 78.

Red Bull chief Dietrich Mateschitz speaks on June 13, 2022, in Salzburg, Austria. The Austrian billionaire, co-founder of energy drink company Red Bull and founder and owner of the Red Bull Formula One racing team, has died (Photo: AP)

By Associated Press: Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, the 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.

Officials with the Red Bull racing team at the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, said Saturday that Mateschitz had died.

There was no immediate word where he died, or a cause of death. Mohammed Ben Sulayem, president of motor sports governing body FIA, said Mateschitz was “a towering figure in motor sport.”

“The thoughts of all the FIA family are with his loved ones at this time and he will be greatly missed.”

Mateschitz gained fame as the public face of Red Bull, an Austrian-Thai conglomerate that says it sold nearly 10 billion cans of its caffeine and taurine-based drink in 172 countries worldwide last year.

Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz attends the start of the Formula One Grand Prix, at the Red Bull Ring racetrack, in Spielberg, Austria, on July 3, 2016 (AP Photo)

Mateschitz not only helped the energy drink become popular around the world, but also built up a sports, media, real estate and gastronomy empire around the brand.

With the growing success of Red Bull, he significantly expanded his investments in sports. Red Bull now operates football clubs, ice hockey teams and F1 racing teams, and has contracts with hundreds of athletes in various sports.

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Mateschitz and Thai investor Chaleo Yoovidhya founded the company in 1984 after Mateschitz recognized the potential in marketing Krating Daeng – another energy drink created by Chaleo – for a western audience. Red Bull says Mateschitz worked on the formula for three years before the modified drink was launched under its new name in his native Austria in 1987.

Dietrich Mateschitz celebrates after winning the German second soccer division Bundesliga match between RB Leipzig and Karlsruhe SC (AP Photo)

Under Mateschitz’ stewardship, Red Bull quickly increased its market share, first in Europe, then in the United States, helped by marketing campaigns promoting the drink’s claimed stimulating properties and extensive sponsorship agreements in motorsports, soccer, 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, while German driver Sebastian Vettel won four drivers’ championships in row while signed to the team.

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Red Bull operates soccer teams in top divisions across Austria, Germany, Brazil and the United States. The company started by buying Austrian club SV Austria Salzburg in 2005 and rebranding it in the company colors under the name Red Bull Salzburg.

Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, left, and Dietrich Mateschitz of Austria, team owner of Red Bull and Toro Rosso F1 teams, right, celebrate after Vettel became Formula One World Champion 2010 (AP Photo)

It repeated the move in Germany, where it bought fifth-tier club SSV Markranstädt in 2009, rebranded it as RasenBallsport Leipzig, and financed its steady progress through the league system till it was promoted to the Bundesliga in 2016. German league regulations prevented the company from naming the team Red Bull Leipzig – its name in German, RasenBallsport, means “grass ball sport Leipzig” but the club just refers to itself as RB Leipzig.

Mateschitz also made headlines for his populist views. He previously criticized German chancellor Angela Merkel for her handling of the refugee crisis over 2015-16. The Austrian Servus TV station, owned by Red Bull Media House GmbH, is known for promoting right-wing provocative views.

Mateschitz bought the Jaguar Racing team from previous owner Ford at the end of 2004 and rebranded it as Red Bull for the 2005 season. Later that year, he then also bought Minardi and renamed it Toro Rosso, astutely using the team as a feed team for Red Bull.

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