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Our high-speed weekend with AlphaTauri at Imola

From the F1 team to the brand, how technology, design and research intersect outside and inside the circuit

Our high-speed weekend with AlphaTauri at Imola From the F1 team to the brand, how technology, design and research intersect outside and inside the circuit

If you think that 2.7 seconds is too little, ask any driver how a few tenths more or less can make a difference. This weekend I went around Emilia as a guest of Alphatauri, the brand owned by Red Bull that since 2016 has been able to skilfully blend elegance, design and simplicity in unique garments designed to be worn every day, and I had the chance to see how every detail makes a difference, both on and off the track. But AlphaTauri is not just a fashion brand, from 2019 it has replaced the old Toro Rosso and following the winning philosophy of the Red Bull world every year it fights and struggles on the world's circuits to get what it deserves. AlphaTauri, in fact, as well as being a brand born in 2016, is also a team with great ambitions, a bit like the Salzburg of F1, to paraphrase it in football terms. It scouts and grows the best talents, giving them the opportunity to compete in a very fast world, of which we too have been part, albeit for just 48 hours, but lived at very high speed.

Animated by Red Bull's spirit of innovation and focused on its objectives, AlphaTauri, in addition to competing on circuits around the world, has for years been tracing a new path in the world of fashion, under the banner of the mantra of the Austrian company, that of the exaltation of mind and body. In the two days we spent together, seeing their home in Faenza, I understood how much their project is centred on the exhausting and incessant search for new technologies both in the field of fashion and in that of the four wheels, where a team of engineers and experts work without ever stopping, as they themselves confirmed.

For those who don't know or are wondering about the origin of this name which in F1 - as already mentioned - has taken the place of Toro Rosso, it is inspired by the star Alpha Tauri, the brightest, most radiant and energetic star in the Taurus constellation. This is a clear reference to the energy that inspires the brand and its position on the eye of Taurus perfectly represents the brand's focus on precision and perfection, not just in the sporting arena. "Alpha", on the other hand, refers to being a leader and the name AlphaTauri pays homage to its heritage stemming from Red Bull.  

My journey with the Italian team began on Saturday with a visit to the team's headquarters in Faenza, an almost magical place where engineers, technicians and experts assemble and build the cars, and where every possible detail of the car of the present and future is taken care of. The feeling you get once you cross the threshold of the huge gate that divides the quiet streets of the Romagna province from the large headquarters of the team is that you are about to enter a hub where the future is shaped. In fact, when I said that AlphaTauri is a bit like the Salzburg of F1, it's no coincidence. The team cultivates the best talents on the world stage, and both Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda - the current drivers - come from Red Bull Racing's youth programme, recruited after their great results in the minor categories. For privacy reasons we couldn't take photos, any shared detail of the car, be it the wing or the tyre, could cause damage to the team, because after all, F1 is a world where tactics, programming and confidentiality play a fundamental role. Beyond the photos, however, we can assure you that that futuristic hub is something gigantic, where every component of the car is made, the cause of the anger or happiness of the two drivers.

After the visit our day continues with a dinner of tortellini in broth or with meat sauce, which I'll spare you a review of, but let's just say that this type of pasta in the Emilia area doesn't need much introduction or adjectives. Waking up the next day is quite easy - even for those who, like me, would never want to get out of bed - the excitement of watching a live race and seeing those single-seaters whizzing by is too strong to sleep. At 9:50 I am already in the hotel lobby, fully dressed and ready to attend a historic event at the Imola circuit, where about 130 thousand people are expected, half of them dressed in red to support Ferrari, which this year seems to be promising.

Before telling you about our arrival at the crowded circuit, I'll reveal a little backstory that made me lose a few years of my life. Coming back from dinner, I went into my room and noticed a white envelope on the bed. My heart rate rises, I was sure that I had not left anything out of place, I say to myself, and with great curiosity and caution I slowly approach to see what is in that package, delivered without my knowledge. Perhaps I am too suspicious, I admit, but the fear passes as soon as I see the Alphatauri logo. No bombs or threats, on the contrary inside there is one of the sweaters made in 3D by AlphaTauri without waste with an elegant and at the same time delicate ribbed finish accompanied by the parka made of Taurobran, the revolutionary waterproof and extremely soft fabric that gave me the feeling of being wrapped in a sort of small cloud.

Having arrived at the Imola circuit with my new items and a shiny metallic pass provided by the FIA, the excitement inevitably starts to build as the minutes pass. Ferrari supporters everywhere are still unaware of their future, Imola is a big red expanse with splashes of blue, green and orange, the colours of the other teams. After managing to extricate ourselves from the crowd, passing all the other sectors we finally arrive at ours. Here we are, I say to myself, we've arrived at the main course, anything but tortellini. We enter the paddock and obviously confusion reigns supreme, with fans, merchandising, food corners, dancers and singers, the atmosphere is unique and it couldn't be otherwise. 

In the moments before the race AlphaTauri will give me the chance to go down to the pits to breathe in - even though with all that rain it will be really difficult - the pre-race atmosphere and observe from close up all the anxiety of the drivers locked up in their religious silence waiting for the warm up. In the meantime, the mechanics fix the wheels, test their speed in the pit stops and all the details and minutiae that will make the difference. Before the start of the race I look up at the sky and see - probably - one of the most beautiful things of these 2 days, the tricolour arrows are there ready with their red, white and green bands of smoke to dart exactly behind the single-seaters accompanied by the amazement of the foreign public, not used to such spectacles.

You all know how the race turned out, Alphatauri had two good finishes, Tsunoda finishing seventh and bringing valuable points to the team. The race was won by the other home team, Red Bull, with both their drivers on the podium. Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez literally made all the other drivers in the race eat their dust, including Ferrari, which did not live up to the expectations of the many fans dressed in red that populated the circuit named after the founder of the Prancing Horse. 

All in all, it was a very fast 48 hours, lived to the full with AplahaTauri, where we were able to see how technology, design and research can intersect and coexist outside and inside the circuit. Forty-eight hours in which we realised that cutting-edge technology, combined with ambitious clothing lines, is what AlphaTauri stands for and what it tries to bring to the track, while waiting for the definitive sporting consecration that I am sure will come soon.