The Ital­ian Job

F1 Rac­ing joins tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor James Key, an English­man abroad, for an Ital­ian lunch at his team’s favourite lo­cal restau­rant to find out what’s cook­ing at Scud­e­ria Toro Rosso…

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The road is un­mis­tak­ably Ro­man, ar­row-straight for much of its length be­tween Mi­lan and Ri­mini, spear­ing through Parma, Mo­dena, Bologna, Imola and Faenza. The olive groves bake in the au­tumn sun­shine as you cruise south along the humbly named SS9, now by­passed by the A1 au­tostrada.

La Tana Del Lupo is lo­cated by the side of this road on the out­skirts of Faenza. At the time of writ­ing, the no­to­ri­ously picky denizens of TripAd­vi­sor rate it the 33rd best restau­rant out of 107 in the area; but what you won’t learn by Googling this place is that it’s the favoured lunchtime bolt­hole for mem­bers of Scud­e­ria Toro Rosso, one of the lo­cal­ity’s proud­est as­sets. In its main serv­ing area – for­merly a court­yard, now roofed and lled with many ta­bles, mir­ror­ing the re­cent growth of the Toro Rosso fac­tory – you’ll nd mem­o­ra­bilia galore: a signed poster of Se­bas­tian Vet­tel after his break­through vic­tory at Monza in 2008; earth­en­ware ris­er­vato slabs hand-painted with the STR logo; and most of the bodyshell of a 2008 STR3 mounted on the wall.

It’s here that we’ve ar­ranged to meet James Key, for­merly tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor of Force In­dia and Sauber, and ar­chi­tect of the C31 with which Ser­gio Pérez almost won the 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix. He’d al­ready bid the Swiss or­der­li­ness of Hin­wil farewell by then, though, re­main­ing un­der the radar for much of that sea­son be­fore re­plac­ing Gior­gio As­canelli at Toro Rosso, a team in the grip of se­vere grow­ing pains as they made the tran­si­tion from Red Bull client team to con­struc­tors in their own right.

Daniele, the es­tab­lish­ment’s pro­pri­etor, is very ex­cited. “Jaaaaaaaaames!” he cries, with a beam­ing smile. “I know you like sh – to­day we have the spaghetti von­gole. Per­fetto!”

Toro Rosso’s tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor nods as­sent and gives the menu no fur­ther re­gard. F1 Rac­ing opts for the wild mush­room tagli­olini. Sur­vey­ing the var­i­ous chat­tels on the ta­ble – large bot­tles of ac­qua min­erale, both friz­zante and nat­u­rale, olive oil, and ne bal­samic vine­gar from just up the road in Mo­dena – you nat­u­rally be­gin to pon­der what man­ner of cul­tural Ru­bi­con James

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