Alex Albon has admitted he was a “yes man” during his short-lived spell as Max Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate, revealing the steps he took to become more independent in F1.
Albon enjoyed a meteoric rise after arriving in F1 with Toro Rosso in 2019, being promoted to Red Bull’s senior team halfway through his debut season.
Having struggled to keep the pace with star driver Verstappen, however, the Thai driver was demoted to a reserve role to make way for Sergio Perez at the end of 2020.
Alex Albon details changes after bruising Red Bull experience
After spending a season as Red Bull’s reserve driver, Albon returned to a full-time seat with Williams in 2022 and has since emerged as one of the most exciting talents on the grid.
The 27-year-old scored all but one of the team’s 28 points last season as Williams finished seventh in the Constructors’ Championship – their best result since 2017 – with Albon growing visibly in confidence.
Appearing on the High Performance podcast, Albon has admitted he was too meek during his stint at Red Bull and has now surrounded himself with a strong network of people – including a manager and a psychologist – to aid his development as an F1 driver.
He said: “I realised there were two areas I needed to work on.
“First, I felt like I was too much of a ‘yes man’ at Red Bull. I was too eager to impress and to please, so I’d always say yes to a lot of things and I realised my energy – my mental energy – was far too drained even before I got into the car to begin with.
“The second thing was just pure performance. Where were my weaknesses to Max? What areas of the car? Why was he able to drive this style of cars, why could he drive it like this way? What areas in race management did I struggle with compared to him?
“I created almost two areas, two sides – the racing side and the non-racing side but of course it’s all in one.
“I sat down with my trainer, got myself a manager, got myself a social [media] person, got myself a psychologist.
“I got the network going so I had a true team. I chose people that were maybe not the most experienced in their role, but would fight me to the death.
“And these are the same people that I have with me to this day: people who wanted an opportunity but cared for me.
“I took a guy from Red Bull who always fought my corner no matter how tough the situation was. He became my manager and then my trainer, who’s obviously been with me from the very beginning.
“So I created my network and then on the other side of things was the driving stuff, which was actually very tough to do because I couldn’t drive the car due to just not having a seat.
“I did a lot of work in the simulator, which made me understand things a little bit better. How do I get myself to be the best driver I can be, that’s going to put me in the best position? I’ll do that.”
Albon’s comments come after it emerged that the Thai driver is eager to “free himself” from his current Williams contract, with ESPN reporting that several teams are “monitoring his situation.”
The report claims that two unnamed teams made unsuccessful approaches to sign him for the 2023 season.