The sun shone on Ferrari for the launch of their new car. Literally. It was a glorious day in Emilia Romagna, the thermometer nudging 20C, brilliant blue skies, the snow glinting on the Apennine peaks.
As the fading light cast a golden hue on the terracotta buildings of Reggio Emilia, Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel signed autographs in front of the Teatro Romolo Valli.
The building’s glorious facade was bathed in red light, reflecting the colour of the car about to be unveiled inside.
A more serendipitous setting for the debut of the machine that carries the hopes of Leclerc, Vettel and an entire nation could hardly be imagined. But it will take more than fate for Ferrari to live up to their ambitions and stop Lewis Hamilton’s march to a seventh world title in 2020.
The trend in recent years has been for low-key launches – Mercedes and Red Bull, for example, are not holding events at all this year, preferring to run their cars in private at Silverstone this week and release their own pictures and press releases.
But F1’s most famous team went grandiose for the car they have called the SF1000, to reflect the fact that the team will reach the landmark of their 1,000th World Championship grand prix this season.
They chose Reggio Emilia for its links with the origins of the Italian state, and as a representation of Ferrari’s position as a national F1 team.
The town was where the Italian tricolour was unveiled more than a century and a half ago. The lovely theatre that hosted the launch was built in 1857, and is one of the grandest examples of neo-classicist architecture.
A 20-piece orchestra and 19-strong choir introduced the event with dramatic Carmina Burana-style music. There were loose-limbed dancers in red and white, stretching the limits of physical possibility.