To continue our tour of Formula One factories, we need to make a journey, both geographically and historically. Leaving the shores of the UK behind us, we need to venture into Italy and head towards the university city of Bologna. Once reached, we need to continue heading South East, through Imola and the venue of the San Marino Grand Prix and on to Faenza. Just North of this small town is the location of the Scuderia Toro Rosso team, formerly known as Minardi and considered by many as Italy’s second team.
As with BMW previously in this series, it is important to know why a team would choose such an out-of-the-way location for their Formula One efforts, and like with the German marque, there is lots to tell.
Faenza is the home of the Minardi family, and back in the early 1980s Giancarlo Minardi was immersed in the job of running his Formula Two team to moderate success and continuing the family businesses that stretched back as far as 1927. Being at the helm of the family empire of car and truck dealerships, it made sense to remain located in the family’s home town. Minardi is also the chairman for Faenza Football Club, but like his motor sporting efforts, they too have experienced little success. So Minardi, and now STR, are based in the middle of European-nowhere, but in the very heart of Northern Italy and many fan’s hearts.
The factory, much like the former inhabitants, is unassuming. From the road it looks like any other factory, it could even be mistaken for a simple storage warehouse. Painted in white and with little branding visible, one could be forgiven for driving right by without even knowing what was inside. The complex is made up of three buildings; main offices and administration areas, a warehouse for various parts and cars and the third houses the composites department.
While many employees within BMW or McLaren ould be expected to wear suits at all times, the workers at Minardi seem perfectly relaxed in mechanics overalls, complete with grubby hands that get wiped across their faces. Corporate nonsense is clearly not welcome in Faenza, and although the professionalism extends from the office down to the factory floor, some jobs simply require your hands to get dirty. And when Autosport visited the factory a few years ago, it seems as though they weren’t afraid to show their hard-work to the camera lens, with most staff looking like they had been down a mine rather than sculpting and perfectly formed exhaust pipes.
Although the factory is certainly not glamorous, it is steeped in history and tradition. The buildings aren’t exactly grubby, but compared to McLaren’s Technical Centre, it looks like the cleaners took the year off. Faenza is a far cry from Woking though, and while clean desks can help make a fast car, the passion and emotion that is contained in those three unassuming buildings is more than all the grid put together.
Now owned by Red Bull, it is unknown if STR will remain in Faenza. Part of the sale agreement was that Red Bull had to keep the squad in Italy until at least 2007. As we approach the beginning of the 2008 season, no announcement has been made yet regarding the future of the team. They may move to newer, modern facilities, but that would be costly, and quite frankly, unnecessary. But being so far from Red Bull’s parent factory in the UK can cause problems on a different level. But for now at least, Faenza is on the map as being the home of Italy’s, and now Red Bull’s second team.
Photo Copyright © J. Stemerdink.