Albon understands Ricciardo F1 sabbatical

Alex Albon understands why Daniel Ricciardo has taken a year out of F1 in 2023

Alex Albon understands why Daniel Ricciardo has taken a year out of F1 in 2023

Williams driver Alex Albon understands why Daniel Ricciardo has decided to take a year out of F1 rather than accept a drive with a back-of-the-grid team.

Ricciardo has signed on as Third Driver at Red Bull this year despite being linked with a potential race drive with Haas.

Instead, the Australian has said he needs time away to rekindle his love of the sport.

On the surface, the Red Bull role offers a good balance of remaining involved while affording him the time off he seeks.

It’s something Albon can relate to after the Thai-licenced driver was forced into a sabbatical at the end of 2020 when he lost his drive with Scuderia AlphaTauri.

“It was a chance to get some headspace, away from, let’s call it, the world of Formula 1,” he told invited media, including

“When you’re in a situation where you’re having a tough year, week in, week out, it’s relentless.

“You’re not really getting a break from you guys [the media], not getting a break from just the performance side of things.

“Obviously, more than anything, the most frustrating thing is we’re competitive, we’re not going as well as we know we should be, or that it’s things are connecting.

“A year away can really kind of give you that headspace to try to first analyse and self-reflect on why does it not work.

“Also, already by the first couple of months, it was like ‘Okay, what areas do I need to improve on and how?’, and trying to make use of my time.”

F1 career considerations for Ricciardo

There is a key difference to Ricciardo as the pair are at opposite ends of their career.

It also means Albon is both able and willing to take larger risks as they have time to reap a reward.

“I haven’t spoken to him,” the Williams driver said when asked by if he had been in touch with Ricciardo.

“My one wasn’t by choice, his one is!

“He’s also at a different age and different frame of mind.

“When I was away from Formula 1 – I think I was 24 years old – and there was a lot of hunger and desire to get back into it.

“I can only speak for myself, but Daniel, he’s been a very successful racing driver, and I can probably understand why you wouldn’t want to join a team unless it was a top team.

“It would almost be a little bit like he would restart his racing career again which, being someone like myself I’m more than happy to do and I would do it 10 times over.

“I think that’s really the main difference.”

More time for family

Ricciardo turns 34 this year as he approaches the natural age for the bulk of drivers to call time on their F1 career – if it’s a decision in their hands.

The eight-time winner did make the decision to step off the grid this year by agreeing to the early termination of his McLaren contract.

Since then, he’s enjoyed some time off, reconnecting with family and having a holiday.

“Time off, reflecting, just getting even more time at home, spending time with family; just the older you get, I think the more you kind of need that in your life,” Ricciardo told media, including, of his break.

“It was just really nice to be home and get quality time with family and some friends.

“I didn’t really think too much about racing or getting back into the season, I think I was just really trying to savour that.

“Every other year I’m home, I’m always like, ‘oh, tomorrow, I’ve got to get up and train’ or I’m always occupied with something.

“It was nice just to kind of completely be off and I felt like I kind of owed that to them, like I owed some real one-on-one time to people that I obviously love.”

Ricciardo has said he hopes the break restokes the competitive fire within him ahead of a potential racing return for 2024.

“It’s not like I would choose a year away, it’s not by choice, let’s say that, but I felt like when I did come back I was sure of myself, more confident in my ability than how I felt before,” said Albon of his experience.

His return to Williams has been a career reset, with his stock rising despite driving for a back-of-the-grid operation.

“It was clearly a lot of motivation and a feeling like I wanted to prove myself but it was surprising how, despite having a year away from the sport, I still felt very connected,” he said.

“I knew that as soon as I would come back in, there would be no real time to get back into it because I actually got some, sounds kind of strange, but I felt like a better driver before I even started my year back.”

Join the discussion below in the comments section

Please note: reserves the right to remove any comment that does not follow the comment policy. For support, contact [email protected]