Alexander Albon described his rapid rise up the F1 ladder as “crazy” after being confirmed alongside Max Verstappen at Red Bull Racing for the 2020 season.
A year ago, Albon was fighting for the Formula 2 championship despite starting the season without a confirmed budget to see out the year. He was then set for a switch to Formula E before Red Bull offered him his chance to race in F1 with Toro Rosso, going on to be promoted to the senior in place of Pierre Gasly during the summer break.
“It’s crazy, really,” Albon said. “I say it a lot, but I truly mean it when I say it. To get the call-up originally after Hungary, it was quite a daunting prospect. But I felt like I could do something. The races that I’ve had, I’ve been pretty happy with. And yes, of course, to get that final call to tell me that I’m staying for next year, it feels really good.”
Although his performances had led to a growing expectation that he would retain the Red Bull seat, Albon says his approach has been to not think about the future.
“The way I have been thinking about things is trying to be in the present and not thinking about all the external stuff. I’ll just carry on doing what I’m doing for the rest of the season and on to next year, because knowing or not knowing wouldn’t have changed the situation. It’s still the results that count and that was my focus.”
The 23-year-old believes he will make his biggest improvements during the coming off-season, citing track time during tests as giving him the opportunity to learn things he can’t during a race weekend.
“I think it’s just comfort within the car and within the team. I’m still finding areas in the car where I know I need to work on and feel more comfortable with. But I know that is about seat time and playing around with different things, so just finding that happy middle place where I’m confident in the car and feeling like I can really extract the performance out of it.
“I know it will take time, but that’s also why I’m looking forward to the post-season testing in Abu Dhabi and even pre-season, because it’s not that easy to do a lot of changes during a race weekend — you have very limited time to experiment with the cars. It’s just general driving, really, and I think once I can start to really push the car as much as possible, that’s when the lap time will come.”