Sebastian Vettel hurried between the partitions in Austin's paddock to Helmut Marko, Dietrich Mateschitz's longtime companion and confidant. A few words, in both faces the sadness about the news about the person who has not only significantly shaped her career in Formula 1.
Mateschitz has achieved "what others would not have thought possible - no matter what. Now it is a big shock for everyone who has accompanied him on this path," said Vettel.
In 2005 Mateschitz got on with his own team, of course it was called Red Bull. In 2006 the Italian offshoot Toro Rosso was added. Vettel celebrated his first victory in the Toro Rosso and his first World Cup triumph in the Red Bull.
And Max Verstappen's path also led to Red Bull via Toro Rosso - and to the World Cup throne. "Without him I wouldn't be sitting here now," said the Dutchman, moved, grateful and sad. Red Bull's successes are solely due to Mateschitz, emphasized Marko on the Sky broadcaster and announced: "Now we'll see that we can win the constructor's title this weekend in his honor."
Mateschitz the "silent patriarch"
Formula 1 praised Mateschitz as a "silent patriarch". The public was never his thing, even if he built his empire with it and shifted the dimensions of sports sponsorship. A huge list of individual athletes, also from more unconventional disciplines, plus football clubs like RB Leipzig or ice hockey teams like EHC Red Bull Munich.
Red Bull had informed employees about the death of 78-year-old Mateschitz shortly before midnight German time in an email. "In these moments, grief covers all other feelings. But soon the grief will make way for gratitude, for what he changed, moved, caused and made possible for so many people. We will remain respectfully and lovingly connected to him," it said : "It is the task and responsibility of all of us to continue his life's work in his spirit."
With the death of Mateschitz, Austria not only loses one of the most successful entrepreneurs and a great innovator, "but also a person who has been extremely committed to social and societal purposes throughout his life," Austria's Chancellor Karl Nehammer paid tribute to the richest citizen of his country.
Formula 1 Managing Director Stefano Domenicali praised Mateschitz as an "incredibly visionary entrepreneur". And even the toughest competition, usually united in reproaches and accusations, now bowed in unison to the life's work of the Styrian.
For him, Mateschitz is the most impressive entrepreneur "we've ever had in Austria, if not worldwide," said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff. Born in Vienna, he added: "He created a brand and an area that didn't exist before. What he did for the sport and how much he gave to the sport didn't exist before." Ferrari CEO John Elkann praised the passion and courage Mateschitz had as an entrepreneur. He was a man who always loved new challenges.
"Your integrity, passion, vision, drive, support and humor will never be forgotten," wrote Christian Horner on Instagram. Mateschitz had chosen him to lead the Red Bull racing team. To this day, Horner, now 48 years old, is the team boss. "So many people owe you so much, none more than me."
Criticism of often high-risk sports
However, Mateschitz's empire was not without its downsides. There has always been criticism of the often high-risk sports in and with which Red Bull advertises itself, and fatal accidents and falls have occurred during advertising shoots. Or the in-house broadcaster, which is said to have given conspiracy theorists and lateral thinkers a platform. Or the rejection of Red Bull in football among many fans. Just a PR construct, they say. The fact that his entry was not actually about short-term profit optimization is probably best illustrated by his involvement in and for Formula 1.