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Formula 1

Vettel to run classic Red Bull helmet as Mateschitz tribute

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
4 min read

Aston Martin Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel will run a special Red Bull crash helmet design at the Mexican Grand Prix in memory of the late Dietrich Mateschitz.

Vettel will return to a classic design inspired by the Red Bull drinks cans and very similar to what he used early in his racing career.

The quartered blue-and-silver colour scheme was the base design for the majority of Vettel’s helmets through his time at Red Bull, which backed him during his junior career and ran him to all four of his world championship wins.

Red Bull co-founder Mateschitz was responsible for Red Bull’s participation in motorsport, and its wider sporting portfolio, and as a result had a direct influence on Vettel’s career.

It was announced ahead of last weekend’s United States Grand Prix qualifying session that Mateschitz had passed away.

Aston Martin has not stood in the way of Vettel paying tribute to Mateschitz, calling him “a pioneer and legend not only of Red Bull, but of our sport”.

On the day news broke of Mateschitz’s passing, Vettel said he did not want to comment beyond expressing his condolences to the Austrian’s friends and family.

But he joined current Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, AlphaTauri drivers Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda, and ex-Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz and Alex Albon for a moment of tribute on the grid ahead of the US race.

And on Thursday in Mexico, Vettel spoke eloquently about the impact Mateschitz had on his career and life, but also F1 and other sports.

“The impact that Red Bull had on the grid in the last 15 years has been outstanding and probably unprecedented,” said Vettel.

“We had a very good relationship and what I really appreciate today is that it was always eye level, even though he was far more experienced and knowledgeable than I was, especially early on.

“It’s been a real shock, last week, to hear the news and a massive, massive loss.

“To me he’s been a great inspiration because he’s always been himself.

“So many things happened and evolved in his life and got so big around him but it is really his creative mind that probably shaped that path and shaped that path until the very end.

“It will be a huge loss for the Red Bull family, not just for racing, all of us in Formula 1, with the impact of two teams on the grid and the drivers, but I think, speaking for so many other sports where the brand had such a huge impact and helped kids, girls, boys, men, women along the way and helped them to chase their dreams.

“It’s all down to Dietrich and the idea that he had in his head, what he wanted to do with this brand and that’s what he created.

“It is a very, very big loss and everybody who had the privilege to get to know him and be with him – extremely humble, kind and just a good and big heart.”

A fitting way to honour Mateschitz’s role

Edd Straw

Formula 1 Grand Prix, Abu Dhabi, Sunday Podium

It’s appropriate that Sebastian Vettel pays tribute to Dietrich Mateschitz with a special Red Bull helmet given that was how his connection to Red Bull first manifested itself.

While still in karting, Vettel first ran a Red Bull-liveried helmet in 1998 and continued to carry the colours of the energy drinks giant until he moved to Ferrari in 2015.

As Vettel’s prodigious talent became increasingly clear, so Red Bull upped his backing. When he made his debut in car racing in German Formula BMW in 2003, it was in an Eifelland Racing car carrying Red Bull colours.

Formel Bmw 2003, Hockenheim.......

He dominated the championship in 2004 driving for Mucke Motorsport, again carrying Red Bull colours, ahead of a move up to F3 Euroseries and then, in 2007, Formula Renault 3.5 with Carlin.

But in parallel with this, he was making his first steps in F1. He tested a BMW Williams at Jerez in 2005, as a prize drive for his Formula BMW success that earned him support from the German manufacturer alongside Red Bull’s, again running the familiar quartered Red Bull helmet.

He then joined BMW Sauber as test driver in 2006, which laid the foundations for Friday outings and then his F1 debut in the 2007 United States Grand Prix as a substitute for the injured Robert Kubica.

Formula 1 Grand Prix, Usa, Friday Practice

Vettel finished eighth, and four races later was drafted into the Toro Rosso line-up in place of Scott Speed, as Red Bull staked its claim for Vettel’s services full-time.

After taking his breakthrough victory at Monza for Toro Rosso in 2008, he was promoted to Red Bull Racing for 2009 and went on to win four drivers’ championships for the team.

The Mexican Grand Prix weekend will be the first time he has run Red Bull colours since the final race of his difficult 2014 season in Abu Dhabi.

In his car racing career alone, he won 68 races wearing various iterations of his Red Bull helmet design. Although a 69th is desperately unlikely in Mexico, the helmet design a fitting way to honour the vital role Mateschitz played in Vettel’s career.

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