Formula One: Asians can also compete at the very top, says Red Bull's Thai racer Alex Albon

Alex Albon became the first Thai driver to stand on the podium when he finished third at the Tuscan Grand Prix.
Alex Albon became the first Thai driver to stand on the podium when he finished third at the Tuscan Grand Prix.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Seeing the Thai flag on the podium was a moment to savour for Red Bull's Alexander Albon, who became the first Thai driver to stand on the podium when he finished third at the Tuscan Grand Prix last Sunday (Sept 13).

The British-born Thai said it was very special to see the country's flag on the podium and added: "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 last weekend's historic achievement can inspire his compatriots and those in Asia to pursue a career in Formula One.

He said: "It's weird to think about, but I would love Thai people to see that they can compete at the very top. And that's 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 and more Thai and Asian people interested and taking part in motorsport. 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 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix and this year's season-opening Austrian Grand Prix - 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 for a third-place finish behind Hamilton and his Silver Arrows teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Albon said: "I would like to say it could've, and should've, 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 victory 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 in 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 Red Bull team.

Albon, who finished eighth in the driver's 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 championship on 63 points, behind Hamilton (190), Bottas (135), Verstappen (110) and McLaren's Lando Norris (65).

Albon 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."