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Austrian businessman and co-founder of Red Bull Dietrich Mateschitz Image Credit: AFP

Vienna: Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz, a giant in the world of energy drinks and founder of the Formula One team and a sporting empire, died on Saturday aged 78, the company said.

Red Bull expressed both its "sadness" at the Austrian billionaire's death and "gratitude for what he accomplished".

The head of the Red Bull Formula One team, Christian Horner, described Mateschitz as a passionate supporter and the "backbone of all we do" as he paid tribute.

"It is very, very sad," said Horner, speaking at the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas. "A great man, one of few of a kind, for what he achieved and he has done for many people around the world and across so many sports."

Mateschitz was "a man of vision, strength of character and never afraid to follow his dreams as he did here in Formula One," he told Sky Sports F1.

"He proved you can make a difference. He was a passionate supporter and the backbone of all we do. A remarkable man and inspirational individual."