AUGUST 28, 2019
A challenging opportunity
By Dan Knutson
Alex Albon is taking a very big step in his F1 career as this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix will be his first race with Red Bull Honda.
"Not many drivers get the chance to drive a car capable of winning a race so early in their F1 career," he said, "so it's a great opportunity to be driving for Red Bull. It's a big step, a big difference, and the factory's a lot closer to my house which is handy!"
Albon will get a lot of attention from the fans, the media, other people in the F1 paddock and pits, and of course Red Bull as the team tries to determine if it did the right thing about having the rookie Albon take Pierre Gasly's place, and sending Gasly back to Toro Rosso.
"I know one of the main differences will be the noise and attention that comes with the move," Albon said, "but I'm keeping my feet on the ground. I'm just focusing on the job I have to do for Spa, I'll be doing a lot of listening and observing."
Having the very fast Max Verstappen as a teammate will also be a challenge for Albon.
"We know what the car is capable of," Albon said, "and we've seen what Max has been able to do this year. I want to see what it's like compared to what I'm used to, but at the same time, I know this weekend is my first time in the car, I'm still learning and improving as a driver and there's definitely more to come."
The first of Albon's challenges takes place at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
"The track is cool," he said. "It's definitely a driver's track, it's quick and there aren't many run-off areas. It goes back to that old school driving feeling where you really feel like you're on the limit and you know if you make a mistake, you're in the wall. That's something that drivers crave.
"Spa hasn't necessarily been that successful of a track for me, but we got podiums there in Formula 2 last year so it's still been good. Also, you never know what's going to happen there with the weather."
Albon feels like he is well prepared for his first race in a Red Bull Honda.
"We've got as much simulator prep done as we can," he said, "so now it's about going through procedural things with the Team and getting to know everyone. It should be good! This is a big step, but I feel I've been through these big jumps before and taken the opportunities – I'm not worried about that. I'm focused and ready to be as strong as possible for the second half of the year."