2021 has been a tough year for Thai driver, Alex Albon, as he travels to the races with no hope of getting behind the wheel of the RB16B this season.
His seat was filled by Mexican driver Sergio Perez for the 2021 championship after an incredibly difficult year in 2020 for Albon – but hope is not lost for a 2022 drive.
Speaking with the official Formula One website, the 25-year-old said although he’s young he can’t afford more than one year away from F1, and so, he is hopeful of a return next year – but says he could be dependent on others not performing.
He has been getting some positive feedback from the Red Bull team which is a much-needed boost to his confidence, after suffering some major knocks in 2020.
Albon has been spending ample time in the simulator as well as getting to know the 2022 18-inch tyres, but says he’s pushing hugely to see what’s out there;
“In terms of age, no [I’m not old],” he says.
“But F1 moves relatively quickly. More than a year out, the car gets tricky. A year’s break is as much as you can do. That’s what Esteban [Ocon] did. Fernando [Alonso] is a different example, but Fernando is Fernando!
“The car evolves so quickly, technology is improving. There isn’t a series out there that is close to F1. You can’t jump around and do different things. So it’s one year [out] maximum. A lot of the push now is making sure I can do everything I can and also being active myself, looking around, seeing what is out there for me.”
Although the reality of a seat seems unlikely at this point – as Red Bull and AlphaTauri make no noise around switching up their lineups for 2022 – Albon admitted;
“In some respects, I’m reliant on others not performing. It’s just the driver market in F1. I was lucky when I got my chance in F1, with Daniel [Ricciardo] moving – that shifted everything over.
“This year it looks a little stale in that sense. If a race seat isn’t available here, there are a couple of teams out there that there are possibilities with.
“It’s just one of those things where you have to wait and see.”
Speaking about other roles he can fill if his dreams of a 2022 F1 return don’t become a reality, he added;
“Helmut [Marko, Red Bull Motorsports Advisor] and Christian, I’m sure if an opportunity did come about they would be open in helping me and supporting me.
“I’m sure the sim and reserve role would still be an option, too. For now, my main focus is F1, to see if there’s so space. And then we’ll see.”