Albon Preparing for First Visit to China: “A new track for me so it won’t be that simple”

by Paul Hensby
Alexander Albon - Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda - Sakhir International Circuit

Alexander Albon says it is pleasing to come into the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend having secured his maiden points in Formula 1 last time out in Bahrain, and he feels the two points he earned was a good reward to the Scuderia Toro Rosso team for all their hard work behind the scenes.

Albon finished ninth two weeks ago, capitalising on the late double retirement of the two Renault F1 Team drivers to jump into the top ten, and the twenty-three-year-old acknowledges luck did play its part, although the reliability shown by his Honda-powered outfit made it feel like a deserved result.

“It’s good to be going to China having scored my first F1 points in Bahrain, although getting them wasn’t something that I had been worrying about,” said Albon.  “It was really good to get them as a reward for all the hard work from the team behind the scenes.

“You could say there was an element of luck, as other drivers ran into trouble, but we were in the right place to benefit from that and we ran reliably, so I feel it was a deserved result.”

Albon has never competed at the Shanghai International Circuit before and goes into the weekend having only experienced the track on the simulator, and from that he feels it could be a tricky track to perfect behind the wheel of the STR14.

“All the same, Shanghai will be a new track for me so it won’t be that simple, as it’s a challenging circuit and from my time driving it in the simulator, it doesn’t look easy at all,” said the Thai driver.  “But that’s all part of the game.

“The sim has given me the knowledge I need for it not to be totally alien and, of course, I’ve watched a lot of onboard footage and I will take it step by step.

“From the sim, I can see the Shanghai track has some interesting parts, like the first sector: one long corner and I think in “real life” the entry into Turn 1 in Quali, with all the g-forces, is going to be unbelievable. I’m looking forward to that and I’m excited about it, because it’s a cool race and it will be my first visit to China.”

After the race in Bahrain, Albon was able to run on both days of the post-race test, which he feels will benefit him greatly due to his very limited running ahead of his debut season.  He also revealed that his third Grand Prix – and Formula 1’s one-thousandth – will see him wear a tailormade helmet honouring Prince Bira, the first and only Thai driver to race in Formula 1 before himself.

“Having two days testing in Bahrain was very useful for me, as I have spent relatively little time in a Formula 1 car, and I will also be using what we learned at the test going into the race weekend,” said Albon.

“And of course, it’s the thousandth Grand Prix. I’ve got a custom helmet in honour of that and it’s a tribute to Prince Bira, who was the first Thai driver in Formula 1 – the only one before me actually – and he raced in the very first of those thousand Grands Prix at Silverstone in 1950.”

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