Verstappen leads tributes to late Red Bull owner Mateschitz

By Sports Desk October 23, 2022

Max Verstappen led tributes to late Red Bull co-owner Dietrich Mateschitz following his death at the age of 78 on the eve of the United States Grand Prix this weekend.

The Austrian, who co-founded the energy drink company and helped form its Formula One team in the mid-2000s, was confirmed to have passed away shortly before qualifying in Austin on Saturday.

Mateschitz, a sports fanatic whose company also purchased football clubs around the globe, helped establish their motorsport division as one of the leaders within F1.

Verstappen, who claimed a second successive drivers' championship this season and Red Bull's sixth in all, qualified second behind Ferrari's Carlos Sainz following the news, and paid his respects to Mateschitz.

"It has been hard news, I think, for everyone," he said. "What he meant [to] Red Bull, but also [for] the sport, and especially what he has done for me in terms of my career so far and my life, it is really tough.

"It has been a very tough day. Unfortunately, we missed out by a little [in qualifying] but there is still a race ahead and hopefully, we will make him proud."

Mercedes principal Toto Wolff - who began his own racing career with Red Bull - also paid tribute to Mateschitz.

"I was in a car that was sponsored by Red Bull, but I was proud to wear those colours as a junior driver or a GT driver back in the day," he added

"Being a Red Bull driver was something prestigious, and I was proud wearing the overalls and the team kit.

"What he has done in Austria for football, for ice-hockey, the racing programme - it's incredible. It's probably the biggest contribution in F1 of any single individual."

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