Alex Albon has admitted that signing his long-term contract with Williams was “one of the best feelings”, with the Thai driver’s Formula 1 career having looked to be potentially over after he was dropped by Red Bull at the end of 2020.
Albon’s Formula 1 career has been an “up-and-down rollercoaster”, with the Thai driver having initially stormed onto the scene in 2019 with AlphaTauri.
The Thai driver performed strongly in his rookie season, with the 26-year-old having claimed five points finishes from his first 12 races with the team.
His performances were so good, in fact, that he was promoted mid-season to Red Bull to replace Pierre Gasly, who returned to the sister team.
Albon continued his fine form in the second half of the 2019 season, with the driver having claimed eight points finishes from the final nine races of the season.
Had it not been for Lewis Hamilton, then Albon would’ve claimed a podium at the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2019, with the Thai driver having been spun round whilst in the top three.
2020 was much more challenging for Albon, with the Williams driver having struggled for consistency during the COVID-struck season.
He did manage to claim two podiums in 2020; however, it wasn’t enough to warrant him another year with the Austrians.
Instead of being dropped back to AlphaTauri, he was instead sent to DTM, a year that left Albon unsure if he’d ever return to F1.
Of course, Williams signed Albon to replace George Russell for 2022, with the Thai driver having quickly cemented himself as the team’s leader, after claiming a points finish in his third race for the Grove-based team.
He went on to claim further points finishes in 2022, with Williams having offered him a long-term contract following his instant impact on the team.
“I guess the last two years, one of those years was very stressful, and the other one being nervous, and I guess I was gearing up for the year and didn’t know what to expect,” Albon told Motorsport.com.
“I’ve signed a contract which is maybe one of the best feelings, long term. It’s a privilege in Formula 1, if I’m honest. I’m feeling very good, feeling proud, just proud of how things have turned out.
“It’s been a bit of an up-and-down rollercoaster in Formula 1 for me, and it’s nice that I feel like I’m building now. I’m excited to be working with the team into the new year, focused on car development and what you’d consider the normal things, not worrying about having a drive.”
Despite having been away from F1 in 2021, you couldn’t tell that Albon hadn’t raced in the sport for an entire year, with the Williams driver having settled into the British team superbly.
Albon admits that he was nervous about his first race back in the sport last year, with the former Red Bull driver having been aware that he had to “deliver”, after being “fortunate enough” to get an extremely rare “second chance”.
“It’s hard, because it’s nerves, it’s excitement, but it’s also that kind of stress of, ‘OK, how is it going to go? We’ve had a year away now,’” said Albon.
“You are going to be a little bit rusty. It’s not a normal sport where you can practice in your back garden, you’ve got to keep driving.
“At the same time, I guess it’s a bit of a second chance, so you know that you have to deliver. Not many people get second chances, and I was fortunate enough to get one. The build-up was pretty good, spending time in the factory and the team, things like that.
“But as soon as you drive, that’s obviously when you feel the most comfortable, actually. It’s what you’re born to do. Once you get into the car, everything feels fine. It’s just that build up, that’s what gets your heart going.”