In contrast to the majority of drivers, Verstappen just needs one lap to feel comfortable in Formula One

Former Formula One team principal Tost was just as proud of his past as he is of his present. Despite the overwhelming odds, his little Italian team had just won their first race in the pouring rain at Monza.

He was still a team leader, but he was being used. We wanted to get through to Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz because he had some questions. A fair amount.

Dietrich was an exceptional person you will find only once in your life,” remembers Tost, who is now 67 years old and speaking from his office in Faenza, Italy. Tost is scheduled to retire as Alpha Tauri team head at the end of 2023.

“He was warm and friendly, but he was always demanding because otherwise he would not achieve all these successes – if something didn’t go in the right direction he wanted to know everything, he wanted to know details and he called many times if he wanted to know something.”

We were on the phone for a long time that day. While at Red Bull’s “other team” (as the team was officially known), Tost achieved a number of successes, the most significant of which was the cultivation of future greats like Sebastian Vettel (a four-time champion) and Max Verstappen (a freshly created three-time Formula One champion).

The Austrian Tost, who had previously raced in Formula 3, got into Formula One with the assistance of Michael Schumacher’s manager Willi Weber and Ralf, who was the brother of the seven-time champion at Williams.In a pit lane that was often overshadowed by the drama of high-level automotive politics, he became famous for being one of the most approachable and casual team leaders.

Red Bull’s success in Formula One since Mateschitz became a team owner in 2005 is a testimony to his distinguishing legacy, even if he died away in 2022.

Since Mateschitz is infamously reclusive, Tost claims that he “would not sit in this position now” without his support.

Tost is brimming with talent, from Vettel to Verstappen and beyond.

In 2006, Mateschitz acquired the well-liked backmarker Minardi squad, which was renamed Toro Rosso, and the team became a part of the Red Bull stable. There has been an outpouring of help and dedication ever since. Just two years after starting with nothing, they had the youngest winner, Vettel, who was 21 years old.

The squad has never aimed to win races, despite changing their name twice (2020 and 2024) to Alpha Tauri. It is strange that Monza was the site of the team’s two victories—one in 2008 for Vettel and another in 2020 for Pierre Gasly. Still, these wins were a cherry on top for a program that sought to cultivate new drivers from Red Bull’s extensive talent pool. The plan all along was to provide the top drivers an opportunity to race for world titles with the senior Red Bull squad.

Four drivers from Red Bull’s talent program have won Formula One titles thus far, including Vettel and Verstappen. Putting aside races for other types of elite racing that have world championships.

I remember Max participating on the Norisring circuit in Germany when he was sixteen years old. Even though it was raining, he still managed to beat the group by 1.5 to 2.0 seconds. There is only one driver in this category, and I said that everyone else should have their licenses revoked save Max Verstappen.

I was astounded by how quickly he adjusted to the speed and brakes during his first test…” Acclimating to the tremendous acceleration and braking power of an F1 car often takes drivers 100-150 kilometers. From the first lap forward, he was familiar with everything.

We chose him to lead Free Practice 1 at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, and the media said, “You are completely crazy.” How does one even start racing on Suzuka, one of the most dangerous tracks in Formula One? “He needs to be ready.”

Recall that I warned you not to talk too much. We can talk about it in five years. After that, we’ll know for sure who was right. It didn’t take five years; it was finished in the first.

They had the same philosophy and approach with Vettel. I had a great time working with these drivers. [Pierre Gasly], [Carlos Sainz], and [Daniel] Ricciardo are three drivers who are highly regarded as potential future stars.

A friendly, family-oriented crew

Alpha Tauri has a reputation for being a location where fresh talent may thrive, thanks to the ethos and attitude of the group in the garage in Faenza.

Storks sit on each estate light along the route of a small industry in northern Italy, not far from Bologna. There still lives the team’s founder, Giancarlo Minardi.

Many of the crew members have been with the company longer than Tost has, and they often have lunch at a local restaurant.

‘Be polite to our guests.’ It was our guiding idea. People kept hearing it from me. I spoke to other English players, notably Williams and Jordan, about their experiences with tourists when I first came. For my part, I informed my supervisors, “This is unbelievable; you can’t do this, and it won’t lead to success.”

“If you are ever in a position to decide, make it clear that sponsors and guests have to be treated friendly.” I reminded myself after seeing how carefree they were with sponsors and visitors.

“I recall mentioning, during our initial assessment, the necessity of a designated space for guests to enter the garage.” The exact words they used were: “We don’t have space.” “Have I misunderstood?” I inquired thereafter. If we are unable to meet the needs of these clients, who are paying you, you may as well go home.

“Immediately we had space for guests and this is how it started – step by step, I convinced people we have to be friendly, and this is what we really celebrated over the years.”

Rebranding and preparations for engine specification changes in 2026 are underway at Alpha Tauri, which is being led by new team leader Laurent Mekies and CEO Peter Bayer. Currently, the company’s situation is favorable.

Since the changes will bring innovation, Tost believes the team will be able to win more races as a result of them.

Even though he has no idea what the future holds, Tost claims that he has no more “old life crisis” when racing. But he’s looking forward to returning to things he “hasn’t been able to do for 40 years, such as skiing” since his injury.

His friend was attempting to pique his interest in going skiing just before this interview, so they were on the phone.

‘I am now swamped with work,’ I said, seated in my office. Examine the tabletop display of completed tasks. The clock is ticking.

“Alright, today is a gorgeous day; there’s powder snow; you’re going skiing today.” But I’ll be able to say it when the time comes. When that day comes, I shall be overjoyed.

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