The founder of the Red Bull Formula One team, Dietrich Mateschitz, has passed away after battling a long-term illness.
His death was announced to Red Bull staff ahead of qualifying for the recent US Grand Prix at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin.
Mateschitz founded the energy drinks giant in 1984 and acquired the Jaguar Formula One team 20 years later, renaming it Red Bull Racing the following season to promote the brand, as well as launching the Toro Rosso (now Alpha Tauri) junior team in 2006.
In 2010, Sebastian Vettel landed Red Bull’s first Formula One title, ultimately winning four in succession.
Current Red Bull driver Max Verstappen secured his second championship in a row at the Japanese Grand Prix earlier this month and the team wrapped up this season’s constructors’ championship in Austin.
“It is with great sadness that we learned of Dietrich’s death,” said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
“He was an incredible man and he loved Formula One. We owe him a great deal as a team, and what he would want more than anything is to see his two cars go out in qualifying today. My thoughts are with his family.”
Formula One boss Stefano Domenicali added: “I am deeply saddened by the news that Dietrich Mateschitz, a hugely respected and much-loved member of the Formula One family has passed away.
“He was an incredible visionary entrepreneur and a man who helped to transform our sport and created the Red Bull brand that is known all around the world.
“I will miss him greatly, as will the whole community in Formula One, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and the Red Bull and AlphaTauri teams at this very sad time.”