Alex Albon’s road to Formula 1 hasn’t been the easiest. Following his stint in Toro Rosso and then Red Bull, where he raced alongside Max Verstappen and was later demoted to the role of a test driver due to signing Checo Perez as his replacement, Alex found himself back in F1 after a season “on the bench” racing for Williams.
Being dropped previously by Red Bull from their Junior Team, then taken back in 2019 and then “dropped”again, Alex finally finds himself doing an outstanding job for the team from Grove. His skills been not only recognised by his team, but also by other drivers and friends in the paddock.
George Russell, current driver for Mercedes F1 and Alex’s friend reportedly vouched for him after leaving Williams to take his spot in the team alongside Nicholas Latifi, with whom Alex raced previously at DAMS.
Asked in Monaco in regards to Albon’s work at Williams, Russell said: “I think Alex has done an exceptional job,
“There was obviously no secret, he had a tough time at Red Bull, but I think all of us, even probably Max [Verstappen] included, knew how talented Alex was.
“We've all raced each other since 2011,” added Russell. “Alex was a few years older than us, so he was sort of competing against [Nyck] De Vries at the time in KF1 [the top level of karting] I remember. And he's always been there, he's always been one of the very best. So it's no surprise to me and [I’m] happy to see that he's back in Formula 1 and, I think, has cemented his position.”
Head of Williams’ Vehicle Performance Dave Robson has only praise for Albon this season. As he said in a virtual media session with MotorLAT and other selected media: “I think, overall, his performance has been outstanding. Particularly in the races. I’m very impressed with the way he handles himself during the race.
“Qualifying is always difficult because of the pace of the car. But in the race he is so calm and his ability just to get on with it, see the bigger picture and manage the stints accordingly, I think is really impressive.”
With Williams being still quite far from the top of the grid, Robson believes that the Thai’s skill is what made it possible to try and gamble with strategy on a few occasions. For example, the race in Australia seen his mandatory pitstop at lap 57 - just before the finish - which awarded him with 1 point and 10th place as a result.
As explained by Robson: “He can be pretty robust at defending and attacking when he gets the chance. But his robust defence is good and has allowed him to have some of the races that he’s had. So I’ve been impressed.
“I think even better than that is he’s still getting better, or we’re getting more used to understanding what he wants and how to work with him. So I think there’s more to come. If we can just get a bit more pace out the car to give him a better chance at qualifying, then I think we’ll see a step up in performance quite quickly.”
His current teammate at Williams, who is as well an ex-teammate from DAMS Nicholas Latifi had no illusions Albon will do an exceptional job in Williams. When asked to compare Russell with Albon, Latifi as well had nothing but good to speak about the Thai-British driver. As he responded to the question in Monaco: “Similarities? I mean, it goes without saying they're both extremely quick drivers and I mean, especially when Alex was announced as the race driver who was going to be my team mate, I had no illusions that he was not going to be on the pace straight away, despite him missing out a year.
“I obviously raced against him in 2018 as his team mate, and I know just how quick he was… There’s obviously some little different driving styles here and there, which I kind of knew going into the season as well, just from again having been team mates with Alex before. I won’t share the driving style secrets because maybe they don't want to disclose that! But no, it's been great having them both as team mates.”