Alex Albon says watching rather than competing in Formula 1 himself was “torture” at the start of the 2021 campaign.
The Thai driver was left without a race seat for this year after Red Bull decided to replace him with Sergio Perez at the end of 2020.
He has still at least attended plenty of race weekends throughout the season though in his role as the team’s test and reserve driver.
When he first started doing so, he struggled and says it was torture to not be able to race, but he eventually learned to cope with it better.
“It’s been tough,” he told the official F1 site.
“When you’ve been in F1, and you’re at the race tracks watching it, not driving but being there, it’s tricky to sit there and relax. I got better at it during the year. At the first race, it was torture.
“But I got into the rhythm of it. If anything it increased my desire to be back on the grid, not just for friends and family but also the fans and everyone who has supported me – it motivated me and kept me going to get the seat.”
— Alex Albon (@alex_albon) September 8, 2021
Throughout the year, he had been linked with a permanent return to the grid in 2022, and it’s now been confirmed that he’ll be replacing George Russell at Williams.
He tried not to pay too much attention to any rumours before that, but took notice when Russell’s seat opened up.
“Mostly it was just about keeping your head down,” he added.
“People’s opinions, things like that, you can’t control. You can control what you’re doing and that for me was being involved as much as I can with the team, doing the best job that I could do off track.
“It’s hard to prove yourself when you’re not driving the car, but at least on that side, cover all your bases. Once Valtteri [Bottas] and George were moving around, it started to spice up the market a bit – and there was an opportunity.”
He also says Red Bull played a big part in him joining Williams and feels they don’t deserve their reputation for being ruthless operators.
“They get a bad rap for a lot of stuff,” he said.
“But at the end of the day, they’ve been extremely helpful. They’ve helped me talk with Williams and get all this stuff sorted out. It’s nice to feel that trust and belief in me.
“I owe a lot to them and continue to do so. I’ve been with Red Bull since 2008 so it’s been a while.”
Alex Albon's torture of being on Formula 1 sidelines
Red Bull reserve driver Alex Albon claims that being on the Formula 1 sidelines is torture.