Seeing the Thai flag on the podium was a moment to savour for Red Bull’s Formula One driver Alexander Albon after his third-placed finish at the Tuscan Grand Prix in Italy last Sunday.
The British-born Thai, making history as the first driver from his country to stand on an F1 podium, said in a Red Bull interview: “I’m proud to wave the flag for everyone in Thailand that has been supporting me throughout my career.”
The 24-year-old also hopes his achievement can inspire his compatriots and those in Asia to pursue a career in F1.
He said: “It’s weird to think about, but I would love Thai people to see they can compete at the very top, not just as drivers, it’s also mechanics, engineers, trainers.
“There are so many jobs you can do in F1 and it would be amazing to see more Thai and Asian people interested and taking part in motor sports.
“I hope results like on Sunday can provide that inspiration.”
Albon had come close to finishing in the top three on two previous occasions – at the Brazilian Grand Prix last season and this year’s season-opening race in Austria – but two collisions with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton shattered those dreams.
This time, he endured a chaotic race at Mugello, overtaking Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo late to finish third behind six-time world champion Hamilton and his Silver Arrows teammate Valtteri Bottas.
Albon said: “I would like to say it could have, and should have, happened sooner, but to get it the way we did was nice. It wasn’t an easy race, we had to fight for it and it took some overtakes on the track to get it.”
The feat was especially sweet for the driver who has been under pressure recently. He has struggled in comparison to his teammate Max Verstappen and there had been some speculation over whether Red Bull would drop him for Pierre Gasly, whom he replaced for the Belgian Grand Prix last season.
So when Albon crossed the line on Sunday, his first thoughts were of those who had been backing him: His family and his team.
I would love Thai people to see they can compete at the very top, not just as drivers, it’s also mechanics, engineers, trainers. There are so many jobs you can do in F1.
” ALEXANDER ALBON, Red Bull driver, on how his third-placed finish at the Tuscan Grand Prix last Sunday can hopefully inspire more of his countrymen and Asians in general to take part in motor sports.
Albon, who finished eighth in the drivers’ standings last season, paid tribute to his team for sticking with him over the team radio after the race.
“I just wanted to thank the guys for supporting me since day one. It’s been a long and difficult year so far, even though things have been getting better, the results didn’t show that. I just wanted to say thanks to everyone,” said Albon, who is now fifth in the standings on 63 points, behind Hamilton (190), Bottas (135), Verstappen (110) and McLaren’s Lando Norris (65).
He added: “The team have been working hard trying to get the car in a better window for me and make me feel comfortable. And of course, Monza wasn’t a good race for us, so to bounce back the way we did shows the courage and determination from everyone.”