Alexander Albon’s demotion from Pink Bull on the finish of final season isn’t the primary setback his profession has suffered. Talking forward of the launch of the crew’s new automobile at the moment he made his objective clear: “I need that seat again.”
Reflecting on a tough 2020 marketing campaign, which he ended with lower than half the factors of Max Verstappen regardless of finishing extra racing laps than his crew mate, Albon admits he discovered final yr’s RB16 a “tough” automobile.
“In truth issues have been going higher,” stated Albon. “However clearly it was nonetheless slightly bit too late. I believe my greatest race of the yr was in Abu Dhabi.”
He ended the season with fourth place behind his race-winning crew mate and the 2 Mercedes drivers. He solely completed increased twice, aided by retirements in Mugello and Bahrain, the place he claimed a pair of third-place finishes.
These have been the primary podium appearances for a driver who, it’s typically forgotten, had not pushed a System 1 automobile till a short run for Toro Rosso shortly earlier than pre-season testing for his debut 2019 marketing campaign. Simply 12 races into that, he was promoted to Pink Bull.
“I believe I used to be barely down on expertise,” stated Albon of his 2020 marketing campaign. “It felt like throughout the yr, working with my engineer, we have been simply getting an understanding of what wanted to be carried out to get the efficiency out of it. And that was simply an ongoing course of.
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“It felt like issues have been positively clicking increasingly more in direction of the top of the yr. Perhaps some outcomes weren’t nice, however the common path was enchancment.”
Whereas Pink Bull has been fast to drop struggling drivers up to now – as Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly will readily attest – Albon was allowed to see out the season. Nonetheless he doesn’t anticipate to have a lot probability to make up for his deficit in System 1 expertise throughout 2021.
He will probably be on simulator and reserve driver responsibility at Pink Bull, exhibiting up in any respect 23 rounds in case they or AlphaTauri require a substitute. As Nico Hulkenberg confirmed final yr, such alternatives are extra readily discovered within the Covid-19 period, although two drivers within the Pink Bull roster – Perez and Gasly – have already had the virus.
“I gained’t be within the automobile as a lot this yr,” Albon acknowledged. “However what I can do is be taught, firstly.
“I will probably be on the observe each race so I can not less than perceive from an engineering aspect of it, how the crew function on a extra in-depth scale.”
Nonetheless Albon is assured that he can present what he’s succesful in a extra compliant automobile, one which he feels “on prime of”. He says Pink Bull are attempting to engineer that trait within the RB16B, which will probably be revealed later at the moment.
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“It wasn’t a straightforward automobile, final yr,” stated Albon. “And a part of me is aware of for a truth if I might be capable to be extra comfy with it, the efficiency would have been a lot stronger.
“That’s type of what I’m doing proper now for this RB16B, it’s about making the automobile higher. That’s been a number of the stuff that I’ve been doing over the winter proper now.”
Albon’s arrival in System 1 with Pink Bull’s then-junior crew Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri) got here as one thing of a shock, and never simply because he needed to be prised out of a Nissan System E deal for it to occur. Pink Bull had assessed his skills a lot earlier, in 2012, and dropped him from their Junior Workforce. Having recovered from that setback, Albon believes he can do it once more.
“I’ve been via this sort of state of affairs many instances in my racing profession,” stated Albon. “So it hasn’t been all that bleak, let’s say. There hasn’t been any violins within the background. It’s extra nearly getting again into it. Now, I’m assured in myself. I do know I can bounce again and that’s my goal.”
“I’ve been dropped earlier than,” he added, “so it’s not been the primary time. What I learnt was, ultimately of the day, how a lot would you like it? I need it greater than, I might say, anybody on the grid. And with that comes a number of dedication. I gained’t cease at any level.
“So for me, it’s nearly placing my head down. I acquired via it earlier than, I’ve been in a position to get to the place I’m due to all of the arduous work I’ve carried out. And as I stated, I need that seat again.”