Max Verstappen has reached the peak of his Formula One career. In Abu Dhabi, the 24-year-old was crowned Formula 1 World Champion for the first time in December. Alexander Albon was the Dutchman’s team-mate for a year in F1, and spoke about the new world champion’s great strength.
“More than anything, I was surprised by his ability not to worry. Mentally, he’s incredible,” Albon, who drove alongside Verstappen for Red Bull in 2019 and 2020, revealed:
“He just drives the car and doesn’t think about the consequences or anything else that’s happening.”
“That inspired me,” reveals Albon, who was replaced by Sergio Pérez by Red Bull in 2021 but remained available to the team as a reserve driver. He reports, “If [Max] finished behind Lewis, he said, ‘OK, never mind.’ If he led or won a race, it was also, ‘Okay, never mind’.”
And Verstappen also did not let himself be pressured by the media last year after incidents, he said. For example, the Dutchman faced criticism after the accident with Lewis Hamilton in Monza. “I admire that, because it’s not easy to be in the spotlight as much as he is,” Albon knows.
That was especially true of the 2021 title fight, as it was one of the most intense “we have ever seen in Formula One”, recalls Albon, who – unsurprisingly – believes Verstappen also deserved to be world champion in the end – despite the controversial finale in Abu Dhabi.
“I can see both sides, of course,” he says with regard to the criticism of Mercedes after the events at the season finale. Albon admits that Red Bull were “incredibly happy” in the last round. However, he says it must also be remembered that Verstappen had had a lot of bad luck earlier in the year.
“When I look at Silverstone, Hungary, Jeddah or even the first lap in Abu Dhabi, I have the impression that the decisions were made against him,” said Albon, for whom the season finale was therefore “karma”. “Of course it must feel bad for Mercedes,” he knows.
“But at the same time I think the [Red Bull] team deserved it,” says Albon, for whom the final was also his last race with the Bulls. In 2022 he moves to Williams, where he replaces George Russell, who moves up to the Mercedes works team.