Alex Albon Reveals How He Was the ‘Helmut Marko’ to the Likes of Russell & Leclerc During Their Karting Days

Published 01/07/2022, 8:16 AM EST
Formula One F1 – Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, Italy – Red Bull’s Alexander Albon during a press conference FIA/Handout via REUTERS

Alex Albon makes his grand F1 return in 2022. With a long list of roles to his name- a reserve and test driver, a mentor- Albon is back to being an F1 driver. However, Albon’s affiliation to special roles goes way back, something George Russell and Charles Leclerc benefitted from.

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Before becoming a KF1 driver, Albon had already made his mark on the big names. In a recent podcast, he revealed he was allotted a special role. “I was the reference driver/ the one who they’d ask: ‘who should we choose for next year?'”

Formula One F1 – Dutch Grand Prix – Circuit Zandvoort, Zandvoort, Netherlands – September 4, 2021 Williams’ George Russell during qualifying REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

With many drivers in line for a seat at the top level of karting, George Russell, Charles Leclerc, and even Esteban Ocon were in the mix. “There were a few of them, and I was the reference driver and I would say, ‘listen these guys are quick, these guys, maybe not so quick,’ and George and Charles were there then.”

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Although sure that his friends would have made it through regardless, Albon likes to think he held strings in the situation. Thus, the position of power made Albon feel like Helmut Marko, or at least a 14-year-old version of him.

Alex Albon analyzes his peers’ growth as racers

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Having been a step ahead of his good friends, Albon reflects on how much potential they showed as drivers even in their karting days. Albon is especially close to Russell, whose seat he’ll be filling at Williams next season. Looking back, he shares how the Brit showed his caliber back then as well.

“I remember George was this young, young kid. We’re the same height now, but back then, he was much shorter than I was. I think Charles joined later in the year, but George was already the quick one out of the guys. Everyone else I could just pull away and drive away but George.. he’s keeping up.”

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While Russell’s skills have given him a place in Mercedes, Albon is more prepared than ever for his debut season with Williams. The two drivers have a lot to prove; will the 2022 season be kind to the friends?

Watch this story: F1 Drivers Getting Into the Halloween Spirit Featuring Ricciardo, Verstappen & Hamilton

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Shreya Sanjeev

781 articles

Shreya Sanjeev is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. Having attained a journalism degree from St Xavier's College, she finds comfort in the sound of her keyboard while typing and excitement in the sound of F1 cars speeding on a track. A street circuit and Daniel Ricciardo fan through and through, Shreya claims the 2018 Monaco GP to be one of her favorite races of all time.

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