Visionary and doer: Mourning in the Red Bull cosmos for founder Mateschitz

Athletes all over the world mourn Dietrich Mateschitz, Austria's highest politicians bow to the Red Bull founder.

Visionary and doer: Mourning in the Red Bull cosmos for founder Mateschitz

Athletes all over the world mourn Dietrich Mateschitz, Austria's highest politicians bow to the Red Bull founder. He's done "what others didn't think was possible - no matter what," said Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel in Austin, Texas.

Mateschitz died on Saturday. The founder of Red Bull, the brand that achieved global fame with a can and helped shape the sport, turned 78.

"Now it's a big shock for everyone who accompanied him on this path," said Vettel, who once celebrated four world championship titles (2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013) as a Red Bull driver with Mateschitz. Unforgettable how, after the first triumph, the Straße des 17. Juni in Berlin became a PS parade street for Vettel and Red Bull.

Mateschitz redefined sports sponsorship

Sport and marketing, high performance and show - for some even beyond the limits of what is feasible. Serious accidents in extreme sports clouded the image of the likes of flawless Red Bull high-flyers world again and again.

With his empire, Mateschitz has redefined the dimensions of sports sponsorship and marketing in a new and different way. Formula 1 managing director Stefano Domenicali praised him as an "incredibly visionary entrepreneur". He nurtured talent and paved careers. "Without him I wouldn't be sitting here now," said the old and new Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen before the US Grand Prix about Mateschitz.

While many of the almost countless Red Bull athletes were informed of the death of the founder by an email from the company shortly before midnight CEST, the two Formula 1 racing teams Red Bull and Alpha Tauri found out about it immediately before qualifying on Saturday. "We knew that he was in a very serious state of health, but now that it has happened, it is unbelievable for all of us," said Helmut Marko, a year older than Mateschitz and a close friend, visibly marked on Sky . Later he and Vettel spoke between the partitions in the paddock.

There, hours before, the trouble about Red Bull's overspending had escalated, when team boss Christian Horner followed up with an accounting of the competition and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff also reacted with mockery and scorn. "And then a message like this," Wolff later said, describing his compatriot Mateschitz as the most impressive entrepreneur we've ever had in Austria, if not worldwide. He created a brand and an area that didn't exist before. What he did has done for the sport and how much he has given to the sport has not existed before".

The many recent headlines in addition to the sporting return to the World Cup throne through Verstappen's title in 2021 and this year should not have pleased Mateschitz at all. Then there was the deal with Porsche that suddenly fell through. Then the saga of spending more than allowed.

Mateschitz made himself rare in public

Mateschitz, whose public statements and appearances have always been rare, no longer intervened. It was surprising that he wasn't there when RB Leipzig, the German soccer branch in the Red Bull world, won the cup last May. It was surprising that he was absent from the home race of Formula 1 on the Red Bull Ring, which, thanks to Mateschitz, had been converted into a state-of-the-art showpiece track. In Styria, everyone held back with speculation that anyone who spoke to the people there felt gratitude for what they had done for the region.

"Dietrich Mateschitz built up a sports, media, real estate and gastronomy empire over the years - and helped give new impetus to an entire valley in Upper Styria," wrote the "Kleine Zeitung" from Austria: "His entrepreneurial footprint will remain . Also because the path of the Red Bull company does not seem to be over yet."

According to reports, son Mark is now to run the company from the headquarters, which is picturesquely situated in Fuschl am See. However, the majority owner is the Yoovidhya entrepreneurial family from Thailand. Mateschitz, once a toothpaste manager, discovered a drink on a trip to Thailand and founded Red Bull in 1984. At the end of last year, the company said it had 13,610 employees in 172 countries. Almost 10 billion cans have been sold worldwide.

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. The US magazine "Forbes" listed Mateschitz this year with a fortune of 27.4 billion dollars in 51st place in the global billionaire ranking.

Mateschitz built an empire

The list of individual athletes has long been huge, and some of them from rather unconventional disciplines. In addition, football clubs like RB Leipzig, who promised in a statement of mourning to continue Mateschitz' vision for the club in his spirit, or ice hockey teams like EHC Red Bull Munich.

Along the way, he built up a media empire. However, the in-house broadcaster ServusTV has also been criticized for offering a platform to conspiracy theorists and lateral thinkers. With an interview in the "Kleine Zeitung" in 2017, Mateschitz caused a stir: "I'm not an angry citizen, I call things by their names."

And that also belongs to the realm of the socially committed Mateschitz. When a works council was to be installed at ServusTV, it was briefly said that the station would be closed. When the works council plans were abandoned by the employees, things continued. Or as the "Kronen-Zeitung" now describes in an obituary: "His toughness often seems merciless: When he hears about the establishment of a works council on his ServusTV, he immediately has the station shut down. The head of the Salzburg Chamber of Labor comes to Hangar 7 , drills on his knees, and hundreds of jobs are saved."

Mateschitz was particularly loyal to his closest companions. Just like Red Bull's Formula 1 team boss Christian Horner, who has led the team since joining in 2005. "So many people owe you so much, none more than me," wrote the 48-year-old on Dietrich Mateschitz's death on Instagram.