Exclusive interview - Red Bull team owner Dietrich Mateschitz... 22 May 2005
He is a rare guest in the paddock - even more so since going from team sponsor to team owner - but even Red Bulls Dietrich Mateschitz could not resist the magic of the Monaco Grand Prix.
Looking tanned and confident he was to be seen gliding through the different levels of his motorhome, a chat here, a gesture there. And sharing it with the characters of the latest Star Wars episode seemed only to increase his personal pleasure - storm troopers at the entrance to keep the overly enthusiastic fans at bay, and Obi Wan Kenobi to make sure that the Force was with them.
Q: So, with Red Bull having scored points in every round of 2005 to date, is he happy with how the team is doing?
DM: Look around - its fantastic, he says. It is not that we didnt know that we would make quite a splash - but that big a splash, we didnt see in our wildest dreams. Or we saw them but didnt think they would come true. With the life style attitude we knew we were on the right track - but that we also would be on the right track when it comes to our performance in the fast lane - that was the surplus you get, when you do things right.
Q: So how does Mateschitz sum up the attitude of the team?
DM: Laidback sincerity. That is what the paddock missed for quite some time. Everything was so stalled, everything was so predictable. And both can kill in the long run, even the best product - even Formula One. The nurture of young fans was coming short because their lifestyle needs were ignored - how can an 18-something be fascinated by a corporate, low-fun approach shown at so many teams. So I guess the time was right now to move in.
Q: Teaming up with George Lucas to turn the Red Bull motorhome in Monaco into a set straight out of Star Wars - whose idea was that?
DM: George Lucas obviously had the idea to team up with us - first because he is a big motorsport enthusiast and secondly because he knew that our attitude and his would match. So the project got off. And Bernie (Ecclestone) was very open to both our ideas and so it took off. Darth Vader being the lollipop-man in the race crew - and storm troopers to change tyres - what better images you can deliver?
Q: But naturally this is not all happy-go-lucky fun - there must surely be a business target behind it all?
DM: No question, our main focus is the American market where we pushed around one billion cans into the market last year. Formula One still lacks the enthusiastic followers that it has in other parts of the world. So to team up with Lucas will give us a perfect platform to get Formula One to a much bigger audience. Sure this now is a one-off, but with our young American driver program where guys like Scott Speed already loom around the corner to become the next Schumacher or Raikkonen - so that Americans can focus on a homeboy-hero - will help us and it will help Formula One."
Q: Thanks to Star Wars, the Force is with you. And with Red Bull, the energy is with you
DM: Absolutely. The team and I will live up to that spirit!