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F1 drivers pay tribute to “grounded and humble” Mateschitz

Red Bull Formula 1 drivers past and present have paid tribute to company founder Dietrich Mateschitz, who passed away on Saturday at the age of 78.

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Toro Rosso celebrates victory with Franz Tost (AUT) Scuderia Toro Rosso Team Principal and Dietrich Mateschitz (AUT) CEO and Founder of Red Bull.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Italian Grand Prix, Race, Monza, Italy, Sunday 14 September 2008.

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Toro Rosso celebrates victory with Franz Tost (AUT) Scuderia Toro Rosso Team Principal and Dietrich Mateschitz (AUT) CEO and Founder of Red Bull. Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Italian Grand Prix, Race, Monza, Italy, Sunday 14 September 2008.

Andre Vor / Sutton Images

Aside from the four drivers of the Red Bull Racing and AlphaTauri teams on the current grid, the Austrian also played a part in furthering the careers of Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz, Alex Albon and Sebastian Vettel.

All have acknowledged Mateschitz’s contribution to motorsport as a whole, as well as to their own progression through the ranks.

Ricciardo, who raced for the then Scuderia Toro Rosso outfit before graduating to Red Bull's flagship, shone a spotlight on Mateschitz as a person.

“He was so humble and not interested in the limelight, not interested in parading his success,” said the McLaren driver.

“I think he held himself back a lot, just because of the man he was, and as I said, kind of how humble he was.

“Just a very admirable character. You can go about things your own way, and especially when you have that sort of success it's quite uncommon to see someone remain so grounded and so humble, and so down to earth. A very good example of a human, I felt.”

Obituary: Dietrich Mateschitz

Ricciardo noted the role that Mateschitz had played in giving him a chance, the Australian's junior single-seater career and graduation to F1 with the tail-end HRT in 2012 backed by Red Bull.

“If I really break it down, there's two groups of people I really owe this opportunity to, my career in F1 - it's my parents and it's 'Didi' and Red Bull,” he said. “They're ultimately the ones that allowed me to pursue this dream.

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing and Dietrich Mateschitz, Red Bull owner talk

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing and Dietrich Mateschitz, Red Bull owner talk

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

“I'm not alone, there's thousands if not tens of thousands of Red Bull athletes who can really say the same thing and tip their hat to Mr Mateschitz and that family, so it's certainly a sad day.

“I'm forever appreciative of everything he and his company did.”

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly was one of several drivers happy to admit that they owe their careers to Red Bull.

“In simple terms, I'd never be here without Dietrich,” said the Frenchman, who will join Alpine next season.

“In this paddock we're probably six or seven drivers who can be grateful and thankful for what for what he provided us, being part of the Red Bull family.

“The chances he has given to young drivers and just to athletes in general, like the family that it was, I think it's pretty incredible to see what he has achieved as an energy drink company. And for sure, he'll be missed.

“It was just his personality, and his way of managing things. He was extremely passionate and loved sport and F1.

“He had two F1 teams for over 15 years, and even big brands like Mercedes and Ferrari and didn't commit to F1 like that.

“It's just incredible what he's done for all of us, but also sport in general.”

Mateschitz's backing helped numerous drivers make it to F1

Mateschitz's backing helped numerous drivers make it to F1

Photo by: Mirko Strange

Williams driver Albon stressed how Mateschitz and Red Bull helped many young drivers, and not just those who ultimately made it.

“It is a shock,” he said. “Obviously, if you think about what he's done for the sport - I'm not just talking about F1, I'm talking about the grassroots - how many drivers he's helped get to a position where they've been able to drive on their talent.

“I was one of the very lucky few who got sponsored when I was 12 years old. He has a true passion for it.

“It is a shame if you think about his commitment to the sport - all sports if I'm honest with you - but of course we're talking about racing. He's been a huge contributor to the world that we know, and it's very sad.

“I remember my first day in an F1 car, he came over and asked me how it was. He was very passionate, very charismatic as well. He will be sorely missed.”

Ferrari driver Sainz, who left the Red Bull camp in 2017, was another to admit that he wouldn’t have made it without Red Bull.

“I knew Dietrich quite a lot and I've been also helped a lot by his support in the past,” said the Spaniard. “I wouldn't been in F1 without him, I wouldn't have reached F1 without him.

“The amount of things that he's done for motorsport, not only F1 and young drivers but if you think about how many Red Bull logos are out there in all the categories from MotoGP to F1, to all the sports that you can think about and how he has supported young talent, how many people have been supported by him and by his vision, by his idea, is crazy.

Sainz won the 2014 Formula Renault 3.5 title with Red Bull backing on his way to F1 with Toro Rosso

Sainz won the 2014 Formula Renault 3.5 title with Red Bull backing on his way to F1 with Toro Rosso

Photo by: Dutch Photo Agency

“And I think he was a super important guy, a super nice guy, a guy that I always enjoy being around and from here I want to send my condolences and rest in peace.”

AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda also stressed Mateschitz’s wider contribution.

"It definitely is really sad and a shame,” said the Japanese driver.

“Definitely he made a big part of my racing career, and also at the same time Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri. Without him, we couldn't have progressed as much as we have done so far.

“A couple of times we met in the past, and also a couple of calls with him. He was such an a really nice guy.

“But at same time he was really passionate about motorsports. He achieved a lot of things in the past.”

No current F1 driver knows Mateschitz better than Vettel, who received backing from Red Bull in his karting days and subsequently led Red Bull to four world championships. The German admitted that it was too early for him to properly express his thoughts.

“I don't know, I feel a bit empty,” said the Aston Martin driver, who will retire from F1 at the end of this season.

“I mean, obviously shocking news, and I don't have that much to say right now.”

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