Alex Albon's 'laughable' rise to Red Bull Racing

Alex Albon in his new race attire
Alex Albon in his new race attire

New Red Bull Racing driver Alex Albon says it is laughable how much his life has changed in the last 12 months.

The British-Thai driver, who lives in Willen, will belt up for the Belgian Grand Prix with the Tilbrook team for the first time this weekend after he was given the call to replace Pierre Gasly two weeks ago.

Albon says his first race will be a learning experience

Albon says his first race will be a learning experience

This time last year, Albon was racing for DAMS in Formula 2 - the feeder series for F1 - but was not signed on a permanent contract at the time. Finishing third in the championship though, Albon got the call to race for Toro Rosso in December, before his promotion to Red Bull earlier this month.

And his remarkable rise is not something that is lost on Albon.

He said: "Just thinking about it, it's laughable to think, 12 months ago, I was racing race-by-race in F2, and then to get a call in December to drive for Toro Rosso was crazy to me. Now, to be racing for Red Bull is nuts.

"I'd be lying if I told you there weren't nerves. You can't ignore it but it's a chance to prove myself with a race-winning team."

Albon, who had been racing for Toro Rosso, was told of the driver swap at a meeting with Red Bull boss Helmut Marko in Austria, in a meeting the 23-year-old thought was to discuss his plans for 2020.

He said: "I was in Austria, and Dr Marko gave me the news. I didn't think I was there for that – I was there to talk about how my year had gone and possibly about next year. It was a shock.

We finished the meeting and Christian (Horner, Red Bull team principal) called me afterwards. He congratulated me, gave me some advice – he said my phone was about to go crazy, and it did, so he told me to turn it off!

"But I called my mum to tell her, and that was it!"

Heading into the first race back after the summer break at the infamous Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, Albon says he has to be patient and integrate himself into the team, but hopes to make a decent start to life in the Tilbrook team - though he will suffer a five-place grid penalty as a result of taking on a new Honda engine for the race.

He added: "I'd be lying if I told you there weren't nerves. You can't ignore it but it's a chance to prove myself with a race-winning team.

"I love the track, conditions can be mixed, but I want that. Like in Germany, I wouldn't mind that again. It will be baby steps, taking every session as it comes and we'll see where that leaves us in the race.

"Everyone knows how quick Max (Verstappen) is, but to get there he works really hard. It will be interesting to hear his feedback to the team and how communicates with the guys, that will help me learn about the team too. In Spa, it will just be about listening, seeing how everyone interacts and we will go from there"