Tycoon with own bomber saves Jaguar

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The Independent Online

One of the sport's least visible driving forces yesterday saved Jaguar on the very day on which Formula One registrations for 2005 were due. Dietrich Mateschitz, the man behind the Red Bull energy drink, wasn't even at any of the press conferences, but finally realised a long-held dream as Jaguar Racing became Red Bull Racing.

One of the sport's least visible driving forces yesterday saved Jaguar on the very day on which Formula One registrations for 2005 were due. Dietrich Mateschitz, the man behind the Red Bull energy drink, wasn't even at any of the press conferences, but finally realised a long-held dream as Jaguar Racing became Red Bull Racing.

Mateschitz is such a recluse that his staff in America liken him to the Yeti. Many have never even seen photographs of the tall, grey-haired Austrian who hit paydirt when he built his energy drink company into a blue and silver brand with global sales exceeding €1.6bn (£1.1bn). He has been desperate to form an American F1 team and to nurture young Americans via the Red Bull driver search (which recently signed up John Edwards, who is only 13 years old). The reasoning is totally pragmatic: America is the brand's biggest market.

Just to make things better, Ford Motor Company simultaneously announced that they have sold Cosworth Racing to the American racers Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerry Forsythe, both of whom have extensive motorsport business interests in the United States, which include the Cosworth-powered Champ Car World Series. Red Bull and the Minardi team will thus have engines in 2005.

The F3000 champion, Vitantonio Liuzzi, who is sponsored by Mateschitz's company, will almost certainly land a drive but David Coulthard is not thought to figure in Mateschitz's plans. The second seat is likely to be taken by Jaguar refugee Christian Klien or Nick Heidfeld.

A lifelong fan of motorsport, Mateschitz, 58, also has a love of classic aeroplanes. His sensationally refurbished Hangar 7 at Salzburg's airport houses many of his fleet, among which is a US B29 bomber. With his penchant for casual attire such as sleeveless jackets and jeans, he came into Formula One with Peter Sauber's team 10 years ago, but they fell out in 2001 when Sauber insisted on taking Kimi Raikkonen in preference to Mateschitz's protégé Enrique Bernoldi. That was not sentimentality on behalf of the Austrian; Bernoldi's Brazilian nationality would have helped the company sell more in south America. Yesterday's deal is probably bad news for Sauber, who seem set to lose Red Bull funding worth $10m (£5.5m).

"Our move to fully owning a Formula One race team makes good business sense," Mateschitz said. "It is also the logical and final step in the process we started with the Red Bull Junior programme, where we identify, advise and promote young talent through the different formulae from karting to the very pinnacle - Formula One."

Eddie Jordan has confirmed that Toyota have saved him by enabling Jordan to purchase their 2005 V10 at an "affordable" price on a one-year deal. Australian driver Ryan Briscoe will probably join the team, after acting in recent years as Toyota's test driver.

"Not only have they been fantastic by agreeing this deal at such short notice, but they have also done the magnanimous thing for the sport by putting Formula One above their own exclusivity," Jordan said.

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