Thai-Born Alexander Albon will be making his FIA European Formula 3 Championship debut at this weekend’s season opener at Silverstone having joined the French-based Signature team for 2015.
Albon, part of the Lotus F1 Junior Team programme along with new team-mate Dorian Boccolacci, spoke to The Checkered Flag ahead of his debut, and admitted he was unsure just what 2015 might bring the Thai driver.
Albon revealed that it was parental influence that guided him into motorsport, following his father Nigel, who raced in both the British Touring Car Championship and the Porsche Carrera Cup, into racing. He reflected on his early days of his career, but was excited to have a great 2014, where he finished third in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 Championship driving for KTR.
“I got into motorsport because of my Dad,” revealed Albon. “He was a racing driver himself. When I was 7 he bought me a go-kart and I would drive in the garden where he would set up a figure of 8. When I turned 8, he took me to my local track.
“[Since then] my career has had it’s highs and lows. Karting was where it began and thankfully it went well. I won the CIK-FIA KF3 European and World Championship.
“After that I moved into single seaters. My first 2 years were a bit of a struggle, especially the first one, but my 3rd year (last year) went well, finishing 3rd in Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup.
“[It] was my 3rd year in FR2.0 so I had to move on. Formula 3 is one of the most competitive series in single seaters so it’s great to be competing against the best.”
The Thai-born driver revealed just how much assistance Lotus have been with his career in recent years, with the team providing help finding sponsors and giving Albon physical assessments at the Enstone factory. Lotus and Signature have had a close relationship for many years, and Albon revealed it was logical for the team to place him in their European F3 team in 2015.
“After a tough 2012 Lotus helped get the sponsors to race,” revealed Albon. “I most probably wouldn’t be driving if it wasn’t for them, so I am very thankful for what they have done!
“Apart from helping find sponsors, I frequently visit the factory in Enstone where we have our physical assessments as well as individual programs made. We also have a sporting manager at each test/race who is there to speak to the team and drivers, giving advice to both
“Lotus has had a close relationship with Signature for some years. Lotus have put a couple of drivers through Signature so it was the logical choice for them to put us with them.
“I was impressed by the size of the whole operation. Due to the fact they missed most of last year, the focus has been on learning and developing. They have put a lot of hours in understanding the areas we need to improve and coming up with solutions!”
Albon revealed that he has been visiting the team’s factory on a regular basis so to be as prepared as possible for the start of the season, as well as training hard to a programme set by his Lotus bosses.
“Being a rookie, the preparation going into a new season is pretty important,” said Albon. “I’m visiting the team fairly frequently, learning the car with the engineer, learning what they have learnt as well as simply going through the regulations and making sure we are as prepared as possible.
“F3 is a big jump physically as well so the training programmes Lotus gives us have been turned up!”
Whereas most teams had their first pre-season test in Spain, the first test for Signature was at the French circuit at Dijon, and Albon believed it was a positive test for everyone. He does not know what to expect in his rookie season of Formula 3, but is hopeful that he and his team can be fighting for regular podiums throughout 2015 as he aims to continue his rise up the single seater ladder.
“Dijon went well,” revealed Albon. “Not driving for 3 or so months, the first few laps always feel strange but you get used to it pretty quickly. It was more of a shakedown for us as we had a new car.
“I really wouldn’t know what to expect [in 2015]. The team and I will take every race as it goes and see from there but I would like to be competing for regular podiums!
“Every year is important in racing but 2015 isn’t more or less than the others. F3 is a new step in my career but as I said before we will take each race as it comes.”