Alex Albon returned to Formula 1 in 2022 with Williams after one year on the sidelines, and said being dropped by Red Bull at the end of the 2020 season “killed him”.
Albon could not get close to Max Verstappen, let alone match him, during there time together as teammates at Red Bull, and was shown the door as a result of that to make way for Sergio Perez, at the end of the 2020 season.
The Bristish-born Thai reflected on that period of his career, when he knew he was not going to be an F1 driver, with Beyond the Grid podcast on F1’s official website.
“It killed me. It killed me, it was terrible,” Albon said describing what he felt when Red Bull let him go.
“It was one of those things – it got announced that I wasn’t going to be a racing driver pretty late, I think it was December.
“They still believed in me and still trusted me, Christian [Horner] and Helmut [Marko], everyone at Red Bull, and I still have a great relationship with them,” he admitted.
“But on my side, it was more or less like: ‘I want to be in F1. I feel like I’m the hungriest driver I know, how can I get back into it?'”
The 2021 season was that of reflection and learning
Albon spent the 2021 F1 season as a reserve driver to Red Bull, and used that time to help the team develop that year’s car, the RB16B, which Verstappen piloted to his maiden F1 Title.
The 26-year-old, who was also racing in DTM that year, revealed that he used that time as well to learn from the team’s main drivers, as he bided his time to get back into an F1 seat in the future.
“What was also important was just listening to Max [Verstappen] and Checo [Sergio Perez],” he pointed out. ” I’d always listen to their engineers… and I would take bits from it. As people, their personalities – how did they interact with the team and how did they learn?
“It was quite interesting to have that step back away from the spotlight and from the paddock in that way, and look at things in a different perspective,” he admitted.
Albon played an important role in developing the RB16B
Red Bull and their drivers were vocal on the great job Albon did in 2021 helping develop the car working in the team’s simulator back at Milton Keynes, but he admitted he was disappointed to miss on the chance to race the RB16B.
“The car was quick out the block,” Albon reflected. “Max was talking about how much better the rear felt, how much more stable it was.
“It does hurt a little bit, because at the same point you’re like, ‘That’s great, I feel like I contributed to that.’
“People like Adrian [Newey] gave me a lot of credit for it,” Albon went on. “I don’t want to say I helped a massive amount, but I felt like I chipped in.
“The first few races… it was terrible, I was a reserve driver, so I had to go to every race, but just being there, I couldn’t watch, I was just sitting down and trying to stay away from it as much as possible,” the two-time podium sitter recalled.
Albon has since made his comeback with Williams, and seems to be doing a decent job given the car at his disposal, as he has outpaced and outraced his teammate Nicholas Latifi – the Canadian now on his third season with the team – from the get go.
Albon also scored the team’s first point in Australia after an impressive drive to tenth where he made one set of tyres last for 57 laps out of the total 58.