Albon eyes constructors championship boost after wet-weather breakthrough

Thai driver Alex Albon says he’s out to score big in the second half of his rookie season after watching Toro Rosso teammate Daniil Kvyat finish on the podium at last weekend’s German Grand Prix.

The rain-affected race at Hockenheim was Albon’s first-ever wet session in Formula One, but the 23-year-old acquitted himself strongly, spending must of the race in the top five after recovering from 16th on the grid before taking the chequered flag sixth.

He had the measure of teammate Daniil Kvyat for most of the race, running several places ahead of him after getting the better start at lights-out, but the team made a strategy gamble to the Russian’s advantage on lap 45 behind the final safety car that delivered him into the top three, which he held to the chequered flag.

Reflecting on his race, Albon said he couldn’t help but feel satisfied with his efforts despite being unable to take home a trophy.

“I am happy with it,” he said. “I was happy with it after the race as well.

“It was maybe the most, like I said, most disappointing sixth I could’ve got, because I felt like we were running at the front for so long, but to be honest … a race like that, strategy is always a factor.

“We still had a good strategy and we still had luck on our side — it was just swings and roundabouts really. I think we were the most consistent. I think we never really made a mistake in our calls.

“There was nothing we could’ve done, really. When we kind of sat with my team and had a look at it, we kind of realised it would have been very risky to do a call on slicks when you’re running in fourth or fifth or wherever we were.”

But Albon’s competitiveness in the treacherous mixed conditions was more impressive that his classification on its own given he’d never before raced in the wet, and the rookie Thai driver admitted he needed to lean on his team more than usual to help navigate himself through the grand prix.

“To be honest there was a lot of learning,” he said. “Mainly what I learnt was the tyres and the crossover points between all the compounds, because it really wasn’t clear for me at the time.

“I remember speaking to my team and they were like, ‘What do you think? Do you think we need to change?’ To be honest I had no idea!

“Then the main thing really was just getting to speed with the grip of the car.

“I wasn’t worried, but I felt like this isn’t that fun, actually, to drive. It kind of took me my surprise how little grip there was, so I kind of started the race with not a great deal of confidence.

“But to be honest, everyone struggled. It wasn’t just us; it was everyone in the paddock.”

The German Grand Prix capped off a strong first half of Albon’s strong rookie season, and with Toro Rosso sitting in a lofty fifth on the constructors championship table ahead of Renault, his aim is to help the team keep its place.

“I think we’ll need to do a couple more rain dances to get a podium!” he joked. “But just more points, really.

“I think we’re running fifth in the constructors now. We know it won’t be easy to stay there.

“To get as many points as we did last weekend was a huge boost for the team, so it will just be about trying to stay there, keep the points up and we’ll see.”