Alexander Albon says his recovery drive in the Chinese Grand Prix did not feel particularly special despite winning the ‘Driver of the Day’ vote for the first time.
The Toro Rosso rookie crashed heavily during the final practice session in Shanghai and was forced to start from the pit lane as his chassis needed replacing. From there, he produced an excellent performance on Sunday, going from the pit lane to the points despite the race only seeing a short Virtual Safety Car period on the opening lap.
“Honestly when you are in the car you have no idea what is going on,” Albon said. “I just drive around; they told me, ‘You are P10 and (Romain) Grosjean is coming behind you and you need to defend.’ That’s it.
“I finished the race, got told I got Driver of the Day. I was like, ‘OK, thank you’ but it didn’t feel like an amazing race. I did start last but it wasn’t like a crazy race. I’m happy to get Driver of the Day. I would say Saturday I was the worst driver of the day so it was nice to get come back strong on Sunday.”
Grosjean closed up on Albon in the final stages and appeared quicker but was unable to pass, with the British-Thai driver saying his own battles had highlighted how difficult it was to find a way to overtake another car.
“It was a bit nervy at the end there. He (Grosjean) definitely had strong pace towards the end of the race. I was surprised because I knew he was going to catch me — the team told me before that he would be on my tail with four laps to go — but following here really overheats your tires. I found that out already when I was coming through the field.
“I knew it was going to be difficult for him, but I’m also thankful for the blue flags coming. Every time I heard it I was like, ‘Let them come.’ A little bit of fortune but overall we did a good job.”
Albon also had praise for Honda’s power unit in allowing him to make progress through the field, with Shanghai featuring a three-quarter mile-long straight.
“The power was strong all weekend. It’s hard to say but on my side I had no problem getting past cars on the straights. I think we are just learning still the battery saving, having to defend using the power on the straights and trying to save energy for the rest of the lap. It was good fun — I enjoyed it.”