ALEXANDER Albon, 22, will become only the second driver in Formula One history to race under a Thai flag when he takes his place on the starting grid next season.
His place in F1 was confirmed this week, with Toro Rosso announcing that Albon will partner Daniil Kvyat next year.
Born in London to a British racing-driver father and Thai mother, Albon got his first taste of motor racing in the karting scene as a schoolboy in England.
He follows in the tyre tracks of Prince Birabongse Bhanudej Bhanubandh, or “B Bira”, who drove in the early years of F1 from 1950-4.
Ups and downs
After signing to the Red Bull Junior Team aged just 12 in 2008, Albon worked his way up to a drive in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 series for the Spanish EPIC team in 2012. Following his switch to the KTC team for 2013, his results steadily improved. “I worked really hard and tried to impress every time I got in the car,” he says, “and I have to say a big thank you to Red Bull and Dr Marko for believing in me and giving me a second chance.”
Albon drove alongside the highly rated driver Charles Leclerc in GP3 in 2016, where he finished second to his team-mate in the championship despite beating Leclerc 4-3 for race wins.
The revival of Formula Two as F1’s feeder series for 2017 provided the crucial step on the ladder for Albon. After a 10th-place finish for ART that first season and just a couple of podiums, Albon finished a strong third in 2018 for DAMS, with wins in Azerbaijan, Britain, Hungary and Russia, and four other podium spots. Now comes the biggest challenge in motorsports. On March 17, when Albon steps into the Toro Rosso car at the Australian Grand Prix, Thailand will be watching.