Dietrich Mateschitz, Austrian billionaire, founder and owner of Red Bull, died at the age of 78 after a serious illness from cancer.

He is considered the richest man in Austriaan entrepreneur built a global empire around an energy drink.

Mr Matešitz’s fortune is estimated at around €25bn (£21.8bn), making him 51st on Forbes’ list of the world’s richest people.

Formula 1 praised his “unforgettable contribution” to the sport and said he had left behind a “long legacy”.

Little is known about the personal life of Mr. Mateshits – he was shy of publicity and rarely gave interviews.

He lived in Salzburg with his longtime girlfriend and once said many years ago that he drank 10 to 12 cans of Red Bull a day.

After graduating from the University of World Trade in Vienna, he worked as a marketing specialist in various companies in the 1970s.

During his business trips to Asia, he got acquainted with the market of energy and stimulant drinks, which at that time were still completely unknown in Europe and the USA.

In 1984, together with Thai entrepreneurs, he founded Red Bull GmbH, in which he owned 49% of the shares.

After modifying the formulation of the Thai energy drink and developing a marketing concept, Red Bull was introduced to the market in 1987.

The fizzy, fizzy, sweet drink, which has been described as tasting like gummy bears, has become a world leader after a difficult market launch.

In 2021, the group achieved a turnover of €7.8 billion (£6.8 billion) and sold 9.8 billion cans of Red Bull worldwide.

Mateschitz was the founder and owner of Red Bull Racing, a Formula One racing team based in Milton Keynes.

News of his death came just before qualifying for the US Grand Prix, and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told Sky Sports News they were determined to “do everything possible for him” during this weekend’s races.

He added: “It’s very, very sad. What a wonderful person. We’re just incredibly grateful for him and everything he’s done, everything he’s supported us with over the years, and so many drivers, so many team members, so many people in this pit lane owe a lot to him.

“It is important that we celebrate and recognize the contribution that he made. An absolutely wonderful person, an inspiration to whom we owe a lot.”