Alex Albon on the difficult period at Red Bull: Everything you do, gets criticized

“I realised when that year finished, mentally I had no energy left."

by Sead Dedovic
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Alex Albon on the difficult period at Red Bull: Everything you do, gets criticized
© Dan Istitene / Getty Images Sport

Alex Albon talked about his tough period at Red Bull, mentioning how it made him a better driver. He moved from Toro Rosso to Red Bull in 2019, earning 76 points there, but his teammate, Max Verstappen, scored much more.

In 2020, Albon's performance dropped to 105 points, while Verstappen got 214. He was then moved to a test and reserve role for Red Bull in 2021, with Sergio Perez taking his place. Albon, now racing for Williams since 2022, recently shared how his time at Red Bull, where he faced more scrutiny, helped him improve

“Truthfully, for me especially, the biggest thing to get used to was everything around it. Once you’re in that top team, the spotlight gets put on you far, far more than what it was like at Toro Rosso.

The first race that I went to, it was in Belgium, and the attention around this whole seat swap was massive and every mistake, everything you do, gets criticised. It’s quite a hot seat – the seat that I was in, it’s been moved around a fair bit – so that was one of the main things.”- Albon said on High Performance Podcast, as quoted by formula1.com

Alex Albon on media attention

Albon found it tough dealing with increased media attention and lacked a support system besides his trainer while racing in Formula 1. He explained that in junior categories, speed mattered more than giving technical feedback. But in F1, the engineering complexity was much higher. When facing car issues, he struggled to understand the numerous adjustments available, around 30 to 40, and lacked the experience to make the right decisions. Overall, his limited experience left him feeling unprepared for these complex challenges in racing and life.  It was very difficult to function in such moments. When you are so unprepared, and at the same time you feel the pressure, it is very difficult to be good and show your full potential.


“I realised when that year finished, mentally I had no energy left. The thing that also played a big part was trying to act like you weren’t being affected by it. Putting that smile on [for the cameras] or walking into the paddock with a smile on your face, all of that stuff eventually tore me down."

Alex Albon had quite a hard journey at Red Bull. He learned some important lessons during his time there. One thing he realized was that he tended to say yes to everything the team asked of him, from marketing tasks to interviews. This left him drained before he even hit the racetrack.  He was ready to agree to anything to impress the team leaders and others within the team. However, such an attitude only created more problems for him. It looked like Albon was lost in the whole story. In such moments, he needed someone to guide him, but it was obvious that Albon had to rely on himself.

He also noticed that he needed to improve his racing skills, especially compared to his teammate Max.

Max Verstappen and Alex Albon
Max Verstappen and Alex Albon© Mark Thompson / Getty Images Sport
 

But beyond the track, he felt he lacked a proper structure in his personal life. When he joined Formula 1, things like managing his home, finances, and support team weren't properly sorted out. This is another aspect that Albon had to work on, but he didn't have time.

After taking a break from racing, he had time to think and figure things out. This break allowed him to see where he was going wrong and what he needed to fix. He made some changes, like getting a manager, support team, and taking care of his personal affairs. This helped him strike a better balance between his racing career and his personal life, making him stronger both on and off the track.

Albon is the best example of how important experience is everywhere, including in F1.

Albon emphasized that he is a completely different person now. Primarily, he focused on himself and realized that he is the most important person in his life.

“I’m kind of ruthless now in some ways. I’ve definitely changed my approach to putting myself first. The reason why I do it is simple: it’s because I need to care about myself more than other people."

Alex Albon knew that he had to set certain limits because he understood that if he wanted to make others happy and be always available, he could only create more problems in his career.

"It’s that selfishness and I realised there’s a balance between being there for the team and being someone the team want to work for – because of how good they are – but also just outright. I’m the one driving that car, I need to be in the best position possible. So the way I go about doing it was purely my understanding of knowing what I need to be the best."

For a long time, he thought about what he had to do to progress and become the person he wanted to be. He realized that over the years he had the opportunity to learn many lessons. It is not only important to learn, but it is also important to change certain things in your life after those lessons. Albon did just that.

"It’s honestly just that simple. What does it take and how do I get myself to be the best driver I can be, that’s going to put me in the best position? I do that.”

Many believe that Albon could have achieved much more in his career, given the talent he showed from the earliest days of his career. However, Albon is 27, and it is still not too late for him to show his full glory. The most important thing is that he understood certain things in life, and that he wants to go in a different direction.

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