Toro Rosso’s Alexander Albon says that his first day as an official Formula 1 driver was one of his life’s ‘all time great experiences’ despite suffering some early embarrassment.
The Toro Rosso STR14 was in Alex Albon’s hands for the second day of testing for what was the young British-Thai driver’s first proper day of F1 action. Aside from a short run as part of a filming day at Misano last week, Albon has no other F1 experience and he was eager to please as he pulled out of the pits at 9am in Barcelona.
Moments later, and the red flags were being shown – Albon had spun his car just thirty seconds after leaving the pitlane and, worse, the car was now beached and facing backwards in the gravel. Leaving Turn 4, he had lost the rear of the car in the cool temperatures and couldn’t retrieve the situation.
As a result, he had to be picked up and driven back to the pits as his car was recovered on a truck. Luckily, the damage was minimal and he was quickly back out on track and, from there, produced a much more assured performance.
“At the start I was thinking to myself ‘don’t spin it this morning’, and that’s exactly what I did!” Albon said sheepishly afterwards. “It was really tricky out there because the track was so cold that you couldn’t drive slowly – as soon as you drive too slow your tyres get cold, it becomes unpredictable and it’s like driving on ice.”
Despite the initial embarrassment, he couldn’t stop himself from beaming as he spoke about the rest of the day. A 1:19.301 close to the end of the day’s action, a time set on the softer C4 tyres, was enough to put him P4 on the timing screens – no mean feat for a man who was close to the end of a 132 lap tally for the day: “Today was up there with one of my all-time great experiences! It’s been a really good day. Once I got into my rhythm it was a smooth day and we had no issues, apart from a couple of spins later on, but I was just exploring the limits to see what the car was capable of.”
Asked about how he enjoyed driving an F1 car in anger for the first time, he enthused: “I did a few laps on Wednesday for our Filming Day, so today wasn’t a totally new experience to drive an F1 car, and I’ve also been in the simulator many times, so I had a general idea of what the car could do. However, the high speed of the car is definitely new to me and it was a bit of a positive shock – I’m enjoying it a lot! I’m still smiling from when I got out of the car and I’ll continue smiling throughout tonight until tomorrow!”