F1 launch diary, day 5: AlphaTauri

Image courtesy of AlphaTauri

F1 launch diary, day 5: AlphaTauri

Formula 1

F1 launch diary, day 5: AlphaTauri

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You could certainly tell which team is going through the biggest change ahead of the 2020 season by the chaos that was the build-up to the AlphaTauri launch.

After a lunchtime flight to Salzburg, a drive into a hotel in the city and another one back to the airport where Red Bull’s awesome Hangar 7 is located, I genuinely arrived at the venue with no idea of what was about to happen. There had been no schedule and no information following the invitation, just a tweet that suggested a launch was happening at 8 p.m.

And that was all because there was so much more to worry about than simply taking the covers off a Formula 1 car. This was a complete rebrand, designed to promote another Red Bull company in the AlphaTauri clothing business, so there was going to be something spectacular lined up. Media had just been invited along for the ride.

Despite the name, it’s bizarre to think you’re actually inside an airport hangar at Hangar 7, where classic machinery — planes, cars and other automobiles — usually fill a very modern building of glass and massive steel trusses. But everything had been moved back — even a beautiful old Douglas DC-6 that no longer fit fully inside the hangar — to make room for a huge stage where most of the action would take place.

A team member described the event beforehand as “Like Ferrari’s launch, only a bit more Red Bull-ish.” They weren’t kidding. There were dance troupes, musicians, athletes, celebrities and even a guy balancing empty glass bottles in weird combinations.

Eventually the latter led to an almighty smash and glass all over the floor, but that was the biggest error of the night, even if fans quickly grew impatient of a fashion show that preceded the car reveal.

As the Mercedes event on Monday (remember that?) highlighted, if you’re promising people a view of a new car or livery then it’s best to do that first rather than keep them waiting for too long. But after a long show that displayed AlphaTauri’s spring and summer collection, eventually the catwalk started displaying team kit and then a huge draped curtain dropped around the car.

What was displayed was a gorgeous new livery of matte blue and white, that was definitely worth the wait. It was on a 2019 car, but that was due to the AT01 being prepared to run at Misano on Saturday, leaving the drivers with a brutal alarm call to fly to Italy first thing in the morning.

Private jets will shuttle Daniil Kvyat, Pierre Gasly and the team south, because no expense had been spared on this launch. While McLaren 24 hours ago had nothing new to shout about and focused on their latest slogan of ‘We go again,’ AlphaTauri had a whole new message to send. Sticking with the old livery wouldn’t tell that story, and nor would a simple online launch.

Guests were free to sit by the car for photos, explore the planes on display – including a Honda Jet in the new F1 team’s livery – and then party into the early hours. There might not have been a launch event for the senior team, but Red Bull was certainly making up for it with the junior one.

While the drivers raved about the new look, they both said it will only remain a beautiful car if it proves to be fast. And with a new chassis that features many components from Red Bull Technology, it really should be.

Team boss Franz Tost joked that the team needs to pick up a win this year after Gasly and Kvyat finished second and third in Brazil and Germany respectively last season, but if nothing else AlphaTauri won the launch game this week.

And the biggest mystery of the winter was solved at the same time. It’s pronounced ‘Alpha T-ow-ree’ (like Kyle Lowry) not ‘Alpha Tory’.

Now, after four launch events in four different countries over the past 77 hours, where’s my bed?

 

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