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At the 2002 British Grand Prix, 10,000 people entered a competition to predict the top five in that weekend’s race. Only one got it right.
20 years on, the scientific formula Alex Albon used was simply to list his favourite five drivers in order.
The reward? A giant signed poster of the Silverstone track presented to the star-struck six-year-old by Michael Schumacher.
Two years on, he was back at Silverstone asleep in his dad’s car and woken by the roar of Felipe Massa’s Sauber during a testing run, Albon there for a test of his own to enter the karting ranks.
This weekend, the home race element particularly resonates, the track just half an hour via the back roads from his parents’ home.
As a child in those early days at Silverstone, he would have had aspirations for glory but is now realistic enough to understand that will have to wait for another season.
“Silverstone’s really where it started for me,” said the Williams driver. “After those early moments, I didn’t actually drive it that much until F3 but it’s an amazing circuit.”
Albon might be languishing further down the grid but his stock has risen in his second life in Formula One, with points finishes in Melbourne and Miami in a car which isn’t realistically points-worthy.
“2020 was tough,” he said. “When I did get cut it wasn’t a feeling like the violin comes out. It was much more I haven’t got a race seat for 2021, how do we get one.”
He poured his energy into helping turn Red Bull’s car into a title-winning one. He also signed a manager to “take the heat away” and allow him to focus on driving.
“You have to be thick-skinned and it was rough but, with the year away, I’ve been able to step back and think to myself if I had the opportunity again what would I do about it,” he said. “I got that second chance and made sure to prove I was here to stay.”
For now, that is at Williams, and he has aspirations to help one of the most iconic teams in F1 turn back into front runners. Williams will try out their first major upgrades of the season at Silverstone, which will have a large bearing on whether more points are realistic in 2022.
Albon would dearly love to be embroiled in an all-British battle in the future with George Russell and Lando Norris, the generation to take up the mantle from Lewis Hamilton.
Growing up, Russell was an ever-present at the Albon family home - in the 2016 season in particular. And with Norris as well, the friendships have remained intact in F1.
Could that be tested if they become front runners? “It’d be a good problem to have,” he said of the occasional golfing trio.
I got that second chance in Formula One and made sure to prove I was here to stay
Albon should be the best placed to improve his golf game with a girlfriend, Lily Muni, on the LPGA Tour. The problem is, he doesn’t take instruction well.
“Whatever she says, I do the opposite,” he said. “She’ll get me to bend over here, twist my body there, keep my head up. By the end of it, I’m mangled up. She says it looks great but I can’t hit it!”
He likes to think his golf game has diminished with the focus so heavily on F1. For now, he’d dearly love to just create fresh memories at Silverstone.