Mattia Gianpaolo Alfonsi (born 9 March 1995) is an Italian racing driver who finished runner up in the 2014 FF3M championship driving for the Bellini team after a season long battle against eventual champion James Clark. He will make his FF2M debut with Ajay Motorsports for the 2015 season.
Alfonsi was born in the fashion capital of Milan and enjoyed sufficient wealth from his parents, Paolo and Evangelista, who are both well-known fashion magnates and devout motorsports fans. They have attended every FF1M race that has been held at Monza, and Mattia's first was in 1998, which saw a fantastic race filled with incidents, a dicey battle for the lead in the closing stages between Eddie Irvine and eventual winner Damon Hill, and a sudden rainstorm on the final lap. Mattia has stated that he "doesn't remember much of that race", but he has vivid memories of the 2000 race, which saw both MRD cars being tipped upside down by Ralf Schumacher on the first lap.
Thanks to a substantial backing from fashion lines Versace and Intimissimi, Alfonsi started go-karting professionally in 2003, but it wasn't exactly a natural talent as his early years were spent in the lower reaches of the midfield. If it wasn't for his parents forming Paolista Racing, Alfonsi's motor racing career would've probably been cut short. Eventually, Alfonsi's speed grew as he became more experienced, and eventually, this culminated in a series of wins and eventually, finishing runner up in the 2011 Italian Karting Championship. The generated much interest in the Italian Press, who christened Alfonsi as 'La Moda'.
For the inaugural FF4M Europe series, Alfonsi was signed by the Blaze team to partner Spaniard Santiago Lopez. It was a relatively one-sided contest between the two with Alfonsi holding the upper hand on Lopez throughout six-race season. The season started off perfectly for Alfonsi as he won the very first race at Imola, which was then followed by a 3rd place finish at Magny-Cours. A difficult race at Oulton Park would prove crucial as come the season's end, he was only four points behind eventual championship winner James Clark. Despite winning the final race of the season at Zandvoort, Alfonsi was gutted to miss out on the championship and was reported to have thrown his helmet from one side of the team garage to the other. The Italian press apparently noticed this and wrote a scathing article about Clark and how he "robbed La Moda of the championship."
Finishing runner-up guaranteed an FF3M drive for 2013, and Alfonsi would join the Bellini team to partner Welshman Benjamin Pryor. Both drivers were closely matched with four podiums each, and Alfonsi won the first Aragon race, but ultimately, Pryor was the more consistent driver and outscored his teammate by 12 points. Before the season began, the Italian press reported that Alfonsi's main goal was to "not just beat Clark, but destroy him" and after the season's conclusion, the Italian press declared Alfonsi's season as a "tremendous success" after tying with Clark on points, but finished ahead on countback.
Alfonsi remained with the Bellini team for 2014, but he had a new teammate in the form of compatriot and avid skier Francesco Russo. Not for the first time, Alfonsi would find himself battling with Clark throughout the season, only this time, both were battling for the championship as they pushed each other hard. In the 17 race season, they shared 12 pole positions, 12 fastest laps, and 13 wins. Going into the final race at Macau, Clark held a ten-point lead over Alfonsi but with the Italian on pole position. Unfortunately, the championship was decided going into Lisboa corner as Alfonsi was shunted into the barriers by Mason Taylor. Rather than face the media in the paddock, Alfonsi went straight to the airport and went home to Milan. As usual, the Italian press hammered Clark's championship win and erroneously reported Clark "deliberately pushing La Moda into the wall, stealing our championship."
Despite finishing runner-up in conspicuous circumstances, Alfonsi got his FF2M chance with Ajay Motorsports for the 2015 season alongside FF2M veteran Jolyon Palmer. Before the season began, a rumour floated around about the prospect of Gojira2 offering to swap Max Verstappen with Alfonsi, which prompted the Italian press to accuse Gojira2 boss Gui Cramer of "blasphemy to La Moda" and that "La Moda and Il Trasandato should never be teammates." Speaking of the rivalry, Alfonsi has been quoted as saying that while he and Clark don't have a friendship off-track, he has never had a problem with him and that he is "in awe" of the Englishman's natural talent.