Alexander Albon, Red Bull, Mugello, 2020

‘My ethnicity was a way to stand out’ – Albon

2020 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by and

Alexander Albon says Lewis Hamilton was an inspiration to him in junior categories as a driver from a non-traditional background, though he didn’t feel disadvantaged by his own ethnicity.

Hamilton won his first world championship in 2008, while Albon was still racing karts. Albon, the first Thai driver to race in F1 since the fifties, said Hamilton’s example as the first black F1 driver showed the sport was a realistic option for those from non-traditional backgrounds.

“With everything, he was someone to look up to when I was growing up, as I’m sure a lot of drivers my age,” said Albon.

“Truthfully, on my side [my] ethnicity I also saw kind of as a way to stand out. It was also a way to even for myself to get me through the junior formulas.

“I was always backed through Thailand and I always had that opportunity. So definitely there were different ways about it.”

“If anything, it was good for me,” said Albon of his background. “It helped me get funding from other places.”

Albon said he had little direct experience of racism in his youth. “I was pretty shielded as a kid,” he said. “I was brought up in a good school, a private school and, yeah, no issues.

“The thing is, I raced in Europe so early on in my career I was pretty OK. That’s not to say obviously other people have it easier [or] harder, it’s just that I never faced it.”

Albon arrived in F1 following a brief spell in Red Bull’s Junior Team. He was released from the programme at the end of 2012, but was brought back into the Red Bull fold in 2019, when he made his grand prix debut with Toro Rosso.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2020 F1 season

Browse all 2020 F1 season articles

Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

33 comments on “‘My ethnicity was a way to stand out’ – Albon”

  1. This is what I have been telling people. There is little to no racism if you are rich.

    1. It’s probably still there but you won’t notice it as much as the suckingupism is much more prevalent.

      1. @coldfly yep it certainly shields, though perhaps only superficially.

        this spring, before the F1 season got going, Sky were doing these podcasts, where, amongst other things, they also talked about BLM and discrimination.

        Chandok, who grew up pretty privileged, recounted how, while coming to pick up his wife from the airport in the UK, he had people get into his car, telling him where to drive because they took him for a taxi driver. That surprised/appalled him!

        1. What was he driving, a Prius?

        2. On a (far) less serious note, in a way it reminds me of a story about DC: At a McLaren launch at which the Spice Girls headlined, he approached Posh, saying, ‘Hi, I’m David, one of the drivers…’

          She said, ‘Oh good, when is the limo leaving? I wanna get out of here.’

          1. Lmaoooo

    2. Alex doesn’t have a race issue because he just looks and sounds like a Celtic Brit with a nice tan.

    3. Meaning it was never racism to begin with, but elitism.

    4. Theres little to no race issue for 99.9% of the worlds population! It just gets blown out of proportion and/or used as a tool to divide and conquer by the 1%

      1. Not true, there is quite a lot of racism around the world. Not just whites being racist to black/brown people. I’m white and British. Ihave spent alot of time in India and from my experiences there is much racism towards whites/Europeans. I think I get your overall point but racism is rife, all around the world.

  2. Albon had been raised well. I really like his attitude. There’s no way he never been having seen differently, but it seems he just living his life.

  3. I really like Albon. Honesty like this makes me like him even more.

    I really think this might be the first time I’ve ever heard someone say being from an ethnic minority has been advantageous, It shouldn’t be, but it’s refreshing to hear.

    Well done Alex.

  4. In all walks of life you meet people who are happy with their persona. They come across as individuals and you simply see the character.

    It’s about a complete package and really hard to define, but you’ll know the extremes when you see them. In terms of people everyone will know, I could listen to Sanjeev Bhaskhar all day but lasted about 30 seconds of Frankie Boyle. Perhaps it’s a personal thing, some come across as chippy and insufferable, others as open and friendly.

    Can you guess which end of the scale I’d put Alex Albon in :-) ?

  5. I was pretty shielded as a kid,” he said. “I was brought up in a good school, a private school and, yeah, no issues.

    As the saying goes, one swallow does not a summer make.
    His statement is neither for nor against any other person’s experience it is just his own.
    The real victims of racism are the very dark skinned Africans for they automatically stand out in a predominantly light skinned environment. The majority who suffered from the slave trade were predominantly Africans.
    There are also culturally influenced racism existing even within groups with the same skin colour types.
    You can’t eliminate racism, you can only make sure governments do not come up with policies that encourage it or turn a blind eye to it.
    To automatically give employment to others just to prove you’re not racist is a bit silly.

  6. Too slow to take notice.
    😃😃

  7. You know, speaking of backgrounds, it was rather remarkable that Robert Kubica has reached Formula 1, even if it had nothing to do with racial issues.

  8. The term “non-traditional” background seems inappropriate in this context. What you mean is non-Caucasian, non-white, minority, etc. It is disappointing that Caucasian authors further perpetuate stereotypes and racism by using certain terms to downplay the lack of diversity in F1.

  9. His name is Alexander Albon, and he looks like an average European guy. What ethnicity?
    Maybe he’d look slightly different than an average Swede or Icelander, but he certainly wouldn’t “stand out” in most of the European countries.

    1. What an absolute fool, who stands out then, just black people?
      Hamilton is 50% white!

  10. This is the kind of heartwarming storing white people like hear…….you see Racism isnt really a problem..Okay Lewis must have faced little things here and there,,,but do we need the Black lives matter Stuff every week…..Lewis can now only talk about his experience of Racism because of his achievements and Iconic Staus,but no specifics ,he still cant talk about the tribalism and Racism he felt at Mclaren when White guy Button Showed up…..

    In 2012 Button went 6 races scoring 6 points ,meanwhile Lewis was talking pole and leading the championship… Whitmarsh and Mclaren response was to divert all resources to solving Button problem,That’s crazy.Thats like redbull taking half of Max resources to solve Albons problem while Max is leading the championship…when Lewis complained all the white British media collese around Button and labelled Lewis sore looser whiny and mentally fragile…..Mclaren got destroyed lost a billion dollars almost all its Iconic sponsorship ,but hey Lewis didnt win the championship over white guy Button.

    When the Saudi shareholders did their review of the 2010 and 2012 season and how the team threw away 2 championship just because they didnt want Lewis to beat Button…Sam Micheal operation manger was quietly retired and Witmarsh elegantly fired….Dont expect Saward or presiely or even Matt bishop to talk about it they all complict,

    1. In my opinion, Withmarsh brought out the worse in Button character wise. After Withmarsh left Mclaren, we got to see the old gentle man Button.

    2. Racism exists like many other social problems that affect a great range of people, but instead of teaching kids to respect each others in any situation, people are busy fighting and pointing fingers.

      Hamilton career was paid by Mclaren/Mercedes, it’s fun how you label them of racists since they’re the ones responsible for him to be there. Also Hamilton was favored against Alonso after some point in 2017. Again, you see what you want to see.

      1. There is no one that is absolutely correct or absolutely wrong when you discuss racism.
        Mclaren is not an individual but a team made up of different people with different personalities.
        I give you an example, Mercedes recently sacked 4 individuals for racist behaviour. This is a team that has a “black” driver. Most individuals within a team are professional enough to not bring their individual bias to the fore.
        If you will have criminals amongst us, we will also have racist because humans are not perfect beings. It is a problem that has no solution.
        The world can tolerate racists if they keep their bias to themselves, but when they go about harming people for no reason or states or organizations turn a blind eye then it is society that is harmed.

    3. Kind of weird that the same Whitmarsh is on the Hamilton Commission to identify barriers black people face in motorsport.

      1. Yes it is.
        Withmarsh has a preference for Button for his own legacy, doesn’t mean he didn’t like Hamilton prior.
        Hamilton was Ron Dennis’ legacy, Withmarsh wanted to tell his own story with Button. How do you put it, like a new boss working with his own team. What could have been a superb British driver pairing ended up creating strife and disaffection.
        Not all bias is hatred. Horner and co at Redbull are biased towards Max and Ricciardo experienced it. They were loath to blame Max even when he erred but didn’t mind heaping it on Ricciardo but when he, Ricciardo just joined the team against Vettel, of course he was the darling of the moment.

  11. Not towing the line on the victimhood narrative. Noble.

    1. Yes. Lived in a 4 million pound home surrounded by a moat and went to public school. And not claiming he was a victim. Noble indeed.

      So how was that all funded again?

  12. Anyone remember the media hype around Hamilton as the “first black F1 driver” at the start of 2007? It served him pretty well and made an unknown junior driver known to the general public immediately.
    Albon has a tiny perecentabe the same thing and is grateful for it, Hamilton is whining about disadvantage.

  13. The two top teams have four seats and two non-white drivers.

    1. Its a shame when humans have to report themselves as colours not substance.

  14. Albon went from a posh rich karting kid at private school to nothing when his mum was imprisoned for massive fraud.

    For all that to happen and yet end up with what seems a nice, humble guy is quite incredible. Kudos to him.

    1. Hardly nothing. He had enough to be fully funded to race in Formula Renault and European F3 during that time. But yes, seems like one of the good guys.

      1. Oh the hypocrisy, when others show this bitterness towards princess Loulou you are all over them!

Comments are closed.