F1-Insider.com explains the life of motorsport athletes in the Corona crisis. Today: Italy. Alpha Tauri-team principal Franz Tost greets from quarantine!
The only thing that hasn’t changed for Alpha Tauri team boss Franz Tost (64) since the corona virus relentlessly crept into the body and soul of an entire country: He still gets up at six in the morning. Then he makes his coffee and thinks about the day ahead.
Tost lives with his wife in a house in Faenza, near the Formula 1 factory where the Minardi racing cars used to be built, before Red Bull bought the small team in late 2005 to make it his junior team, Toro Rosso .
Only this year, Toro Rosso was renamed Alpha Tauri to give Red Bull’s Alpha Tauri fashion brand a big boost.
Faenza is surrounded by a motorsport cult. Tost can almost look at the track in Imola, which is just outside Faenza. Bologna is 40 kilometers away, Modena and the Ferrari factory in Maranello around 60.
The area is somewhat reminiscent of Tuscany, with lush hills whose green is bathed in a mystical light by the sun when the morning dew reflects the rays. You can smell the grass when the wind is right. The countless small cafeterias in Faenza and Bologna were full early in the morning. The older residents usually met for a croissant and an espresso, every second one had the pink Gazzetta dello Sport tucked under their arms.
The younger ones drove up with their scooters. Everyone philosophized about Calcio, Formula Uno and their mostly simple but happy life. They filled the streets with a familiar mix of their voices and the honking two-wheelers.
It’s different today. Completely different. Unreal, bizarre. Like a nightmare that is not over when you wake up in the morning. When Tost looks out of the window today, the only thing you can see and hear are small pieces of paper that are blown over the sidewalks by the wind. “It’s ghostly,” says Tost, “like a ghost town. You have to stay at home, only shopping for the bare essentials and visits to the doctor are allowed. The police control very strictly.”
Every day something changes according to the Tyrolean. On Sunday, he learned that the Azerbaijan Grand Prix was canceled in early June. The race in Canada 14 days later is on the brink. “Nobody can really say when the season starts,” believes Tost, “but in July at the earliest.”
His quarantine job is now: “Keeping the company going, motivating the employees. Exude calm. ”
On Monday, for example, he led a video conference with the team manager, the production manager and the head of the factory. Tost: “Since Monday all businesses in Italy that are not absolutely necessary for life in Italy have been closed. Our factory is naturally one of them. We actually wanted to produce new parts. This is no longer possible. So we had to discuss how to proceed. ”
Every two days he also calls his two pilots Daniiel Kvyat and Pierre Gasly. Tost: “Always alternating. It was Kvyat on Monday and Gasly on Tuesday. I ask them how they are doing and what they’re doing. I motivate them the best I can. But I can’t tell them when normal life returns. Only that it will happen at some point and you have to be prepared for that day.”
What Tost himself misses most: running in nature. The former middle-distance runner in the Austrian national squad now only helps himself with training in his fitness room. Tost: “Fortunately, I have enough devices for this.”
Tost is unable to answer exactly why Northern Italy was by far hit hardest compared to other European countries. But he has a theory: “For example, an extremely large number of Chinese live in Florence. Lombardy, especially the area around Milan, is again a huge industrial area, with a lot of visitors in a confined space. The virus took its course like an invisible enemy that was recognized far too late. Nobody was prepared for this. Now the hospitals are completely overloaded, so there are extreme orders and emergency plans. You have to take the edge off the virus that it had.”
Alone: Unfortunately, his cat Freddy, who has always provided a lot of variety, joy and down-to-earthness, is no longer alive. Tost wants to use the time that one is forced to have more for himself with books. Athletes biographies, novels. “It is important”, says Tost, “that you don’t give up. The hard time will pass. Not when is important, but that it does. ” This attitude would certainly be easier for athletes.