Alexander Albon will make his first appearance for Red Bull Racing this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, with the Thai driver excited to get the chance to drive for a front-running team so early into his Formula 1 career.
Albon has been drafted in to replace Pierre Gasly alongside Max Verstappen for the remainder of the season, with the French driver having failed to perform sufficiently well in the first twelve races to keep his seat, although he has been placed in his old seat at Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Heading into Spa-Francorchamps, Albon acknowledges it is a big step for him so early into his career, with only twelve races under his belt and a best finish of sixth to his name, which came in the wet-dry German Grand Prix last month. He knows just what Verstappen has been able to do with the RB15, and he is ready to see what he can do across the remaining nine races of the campaign.
“Not many drivers get the chance to drive a car capable of winning a race so early in their F1 career, so it’s a great opportunity to be driving for Red Bull,” said Albon. “It’s a big step, a big difference, and the factory’s a lot closer to my house which is handy!
“We know what the car is capable of and we’ve seen what Max has been able to do this year. I want to see what it’s like compared to what I’m used to, but at the same time, I know this weekend is my first time in the car, I’m still learning and improving as a driver and there’s definitely more to come.
“I know one of the main differences will be the noise and attention that comes with the move but I’m keeping my feet on the ground. I’m just focusing on the job I have to do for Spa, I’ll be doing a lot of listening and observing.”
Albon says he has done as much preparation as possible for his first outing with Red Bull, and it will be important to continue to learn more over the coming days and weeks to be in with a good chance of fighting for possible podiums and maybe even victories.
“We’ve got as much simulator prep done as we can, so now it’s about going through procedural things with the Team and getting to know everyone,” added the Thai driver. “It should be good!
“This is a big step, but I feel I’ve been through these big jumps before and taken the opportunities – I’m not worried about that. I’m focused and ready to be as strong as possible for the second half of the year.”
Switching his attention to Spa-Francorchamps itself, Albon is amongst those drivers who loves the track, although he has not enjoyed as much success at the circuit as he would have liked during his junior career, although he did finish on the podium there in FIA Formula 2 in 2018.
“The track is cool and I think it’s one that everyone loves,” admits Albon. “It’s definitely a drivers track, it’s quick and there aren’t many run-off areas.
“It kind of goes back to that old school driving feeling where you really feel like you’re on the limit and you know if you make a mistake, you’re in the wall. That’s something that drivers crave.
“Spa hasn’t necessarily been that successful of a track for me, but we got podiums there in Formula 2 last year so it’s still been good. Also, you never know what’s going to happen there with the weather.”