Alexander Albon says he is now familiar with the Formula 1 environment following the conclusion of his maiden season but making the switch from Scuderia Toro Rosso to Aston Martin Red Bull Racing midway through 2019 made him feel he was ‘starting back at square one’ again.
Albon was initially set to race for Nissan e.DAMS in the FIA Formula E championship before being given his break in Formula 1 in 2019 with Toro Rosso, and he impressed sufficiently to be in a position to be called up by Red Bull in place of the struggling Pierre Gasly during the mid-season break.
Making the move to Red Bull upset the rhythm he was building up at Toro Rosso, but he performed strongly across the final nine races to earn himself a full-time seat with the front-running team for 2020. He finished inside the top six in eight of his nine races and was on course for a maiden podium in Brazil until Lewis Hamilton collided with him on the penultimate lap.
“I’m familiar now with Formula 1,” said Albon to Motorsport.com. “The environment at least, and it will be a bit more normal.
“Even this year wasn’t that normal. It was almost like I felt like I learned a good chunk of Formula 1 with the Toro Rosso, and how it was working.
“And it changed. It was almost like starting back at square one a little bit. But at least now we have a real solid foundation, where it will be a more secure working towards Melbourne.”
‘You Can’t Risk Just Going Crazy’ on Grand Prix Weekends
Albon will go into pre-season testing with Red Bull next February knowing he will only have three days in the new Red Bull car before the season gets underway properly with the Australian Grand Prix in March, and he admits he will need to make the most of his time on track if he is to be properly prepared.
The Thai driver feels the team now know what kind of car he needs to show his true talents, and going into the pre-season testing programme at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya from next February, he wants to work on his preparing as much as he can for the season opener.
“You can’t change that much [on a grand prix weekend], because you can’t risk just going crazy with it,” said Albon. “But I think already, the team really understand kind of what I want in the car.
“That’s really where we can really start to focus. At testing the atmosphere is obviously a little bit different. You have better comparisons, not like in FP1 and FP2 when you’ve got four hours in between a session and things like that.
“So it will be really good time [on track]. And it’s a very important time where you have to really focus on your time, on your scheduling and making sure you’re getting the most out of it.
“Because even if we say it’s time to learn and time to experiment, we’ve only got three days for testing before we get to Melbourne. It’s still limited, but of course, it’s better than nothing.”