Toro Rosso Honda‘s newest signing Alexander Albon has admitted that he was on the verge of quitting racing back in 2012, when he was dropped by Red Bull.
After weeks of speculation the Thai-Anglo driver was officially confirmed to be racing in Formula 1 on Monday. Albon was originally signed to race in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship with Nissan e.dams, but managed to strike a last minute deal to race in Formula 1 after getting a release from his contract.
Albon was part of Red Bull’s Junior programme in 2012, but was dropped a year later. He finished runner-up in the 2016 GP3 Series, only losing out to Charles Leclerc. This year saw Albon enter FIA Formula 2 for a second season, switching from ART Grand Prix to DAMS, entering in to the title fight against good friend George Russell. Albon ended the season third overall with four wins to his name.
Heading into 2019, Albon has re-joined the Red Bull family to race at Toro Rosso and will partner alongside Daniil Kvyat, who is also returning to the team after a year away.
In an interview with Red Bull, Albon said that he found out the news on Monday afternoon whilst he was shopping for a pair of trainers.
“I received the call on Monday afternoon,” said Albon. “I was told that I was now confirmed as a Toro Rosso driver and that the team was ready to make an announcement. I was in the shopping mall buying a pair of trainers so I rushed back to the hotel straight away!
“I was beyond excited as I have waited for this moment since I was six years old.
“I can’t say that it came out of the blue, because I have been trying to resolve my situation with Nissan e.dams to allow me to join Toro Rosso for the past few months. I still couldn’t believe that it finally happened!”
Albon recalls the time he was dropped by the programme in 2012. stating the situation was ‘tough’ and admitted that he was close to quitting racing altogether.
“Very tough,” said Albon about being dropped by Red Bull. “It was a difficult year for me for numerous reasons, not least because of my results, but it made me work that much harder.
“I was on the brink of stopping racing all together. Since then, I knew I had to impress every time I drove and fortunately Dr. Marko gave me a second chance.
“I never gave up on it, I needed to believe that it could still happen. Having said that, I knew that my chance of going to F1 was very slim as I didn’t have a proper budget. In reality, the only way I was going to have the opportunity was through Toro Rosso/Red Bull, but as we all know, it is not easy to impress Dr. Marko!”
Albon will become the first Thai driver to race in Formula 1 since Prince Bira of Siam of the Thai Royal Family took part in 19 Grands Prix from 1950-1954.
Next year will be the first time since 2010 where the top three drivers of F2/GP2 will all graduate to F1 together as Albon will join alongside Lando Norris and Russell on the grid.
Ahead of his first season, Albon hasn’t set any season goals as of yet, but hopes to take every race weekend as it comes and be a regular points scorer.
“Personally, I don’t really set goals for the end of the year. It’s more about trying to maximize each race weekend as it comes. I won’t have many days in the car before Melbourne, so it will be very important to be as prepared as possible and take each race as it comes. Of course, it would be nice to fight regularly for points and at the sharp end.”