Albon says progress he made during year out was key to successful F1 return | 2022 F1 season


Williams’ Alexander Albon says he returned to Formula 1 last season as an improved driver, despite doing no single-seater racing during his year out of the world championship.

Albon raced for Red Bull in 2020, his second season in F1, but was demoted to a reserve driver role for 2021. He made no appearances in official practice sessions or tests, but did conduct some testing for the team.

In addition to racing in the DTM, which uses GT3 sports cars, Albon spent much of the year analysing his past F1 performances and how he could improve should he return to the grid – a feat he achieved with Williams last year.

“I would say the year away, it was a chance to get some head space away from the world of F1,” Albon revealed at Williams’ 2023 livery launch.

DTM outings kept Albon race-ready during 2021

“And when you’re in a situation where you’re having a tough year and week-in and week-out it’s relentless, you’re not really getting a break from [the media], not getting a break from just the performance side of things.”

“More than anything, the most frustrating thing is [as a team] we’re competitive, we’re not doing as well as we know we should be, or that things aren’t connecting [at my end].

“A year away can really give you that head space to try to analyse and self-reflect on why did it not work. But also already by my first couple of months [out of F1] it was like ‘okay, what areas do I need to improve on and how?’. And then just trying to make use of my time.”

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Three points finishes during his comeback campaign put Albon 18th in the 2022 standings, and on his third race back in Melbourne he scored a point by making his starting set of tyres last until the penultimate lap before completing his mandatory pit stop.

Alexander Albon, Williams launch, 2023
Albon remains with Williams for 2022

Further impressive performances earned him a multi-year deal with Williams, after initially being signed just for 2022 and having returned to F1 needing to prove himself again following his Red Bull demotion.

Albon thinks the year out did improve his on-track performances last year.

“It’s not like I would choose a year away if I had to, it’s not my choice, let’s say that. But I felt like when I did come back, I was more sure of myself, more confident in my ability than how I started before.

“And it felt like clearly there was a lot of motivation [during the year out] and feeling like I wanted to prove myself, but it was surprising how, despite having a year away from the sport, I still felt very connected and almost I knew that as soon as I would come back, there would be no real time to get back into [the F1 mindset].

“It sounds strange but I felt like a better driver over the break and [when I] started my year back it was just improving things where all the groundwork was that I did, and I was better for it.”

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