Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda‘s Alexander Albon says he’ll expect a steep learning curve ahead of his first preparation as a Formula 1 driver, but will try not to place too much pressure on himself in his rookie year.
Albon will make the step up to Formula 1 after a successful FIA Formula 2 season with DAMS, where he ended the year third overall and was in the championship hunt.
Toro Rosso hired Albon after the season concluded at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, as a replacement to Brendon Hartley. Albon will join alongside Daniil Kvyat, who makes his return to F1 and to the Italian squad.
With the launch of the STR14, Albon says he expects a steep learning curve to come ahead of the first pre-season test in Barcelona in a weeks time, but has stated that he hasn’t put too much pressure on himself ahead of the season opener in Melbourne.
“Obviously, I think it’s going to be a steep learning curve. I’ll get four days of testing in Barcelona before Melbourne so we don’t have a lot of driving. The main focus is to be comfortable in the car and get up to speed as quickly as possible. We’ll see,” said Albon.
“In terms of my personal preparation, I’ll try not to put too much pressure on myself and give it everything I have from day one. It’s my opportunity this year to show everyone what I’ve got.”
Albon joins a class from Formula 2 to be promoted to Formula 1 for 2019. F2 champion George Russell and runner-up Lando Norris will join Albon in making their rookie debut this year. This is the first time since 2010 when the top three from GP2/F2 have been promoted to F1 together.
The Thai-Anglo driver admits that it feels nice that half of the grid he is racing against in F1 are drivers he has previously battled with in karting before, including friend and Williams Racing driver Russell.
“I haven’t paid much attention to it,” admits Albon. “It’s quite a special year in that sense because you have a lot of F2 drivers coming into F1.
“I think it’s been a very long time since three drivers came from F2 to F1. We know that in Formula 1, the drivers are the best of the best, so it’s nice to know that pretty much half the grid is made up of drivers I’ve karted with or raced against, with George and Lando.
“Being part of that number as well obviously. It’s just nice to be racing at the top level with the guys I’ve driven against throughout my career to date.”
With his rookie year in F1 set, Albon will be travelling to new circuits for the first time. One of which Albon is looking forward to the most is Suzuka in Japan, where the rookie says the classic circuit looks ‘really cool’ to drive.
“I would say Japan because Suzuka seems like a great track. When you look at it from the outside, you see the fans and you see the passion. I really like the country as well.
“I’ve been there once before. The track is a serious one because it’s an old-school, no-mercy circuit. It looks really, really cool to drive. I’d say definitely Japan.”