This weekend, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will mark the end of the 2022 Formula One season, which saw the beginning of two noteworthy partnerships.
This year, British constructor Williams Racing announced that it has joined forces with Bang & Olufsen as an official team partner. The multi-year agreement will not only have the Williams FW44 emblazoned with the luxury audio brand’s logo but also result in “impactful, immersive, and multi-sensory customer and fan experiences” across global Bang & Olufsen stores, at Williams Racing facilities trackside at various Grands Prix, and at the Williams headquarters in Grove.
The year 2022 is also when Thai-British racer Alex Albon made his debut in Williams’ Race Driver lineup. Returning for his third Formula One season after parting ways with Red Bull Racing, and a year away from the sport, Albon has reunited with former Formula 2 teammate Nicholas Latifi at Williams. Highlights of Albon’s career include him making history at the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix as the first Thai driver to have an F1 podium finish.
Ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Vogue Man Arabia caught up with Alex Albon to learn more about his experience this season, his pre-race rituals, and more.
Given your father’s background in racing, did you always want to become a racer yourself? How did your love for the sport come about?
Yes, I did, straight away. As soon as I could think about cars, I think I was completely obsessed. My earliest memory was I think when I was four years old. I would shout out every time I saw a red car and I would call it “errari” for a Ferrari. And I would just spend pretty much every day with my Hot Wheels cars and would make up scenarios in my head: I was pretending to be one of the drivers and going past everyone else, and all that kind of thing.
My dad got me into racing. He bought me my first go-kart, and he took me to my first circuit. He was my mechanic, my driving coach, and my engineer. So that’s how it all started.
How has this season been for you, and how do you feel going into the final race?
It’s been positive. I’m really happy with the season. I feel like, obviously in terms of results, maybe it doesn’t look as impressive but I feel like we’ve done a very good job considering the circumstances. It’s obviously been a year for me where I’ve had a year away from the sport, so to come back and to finish where I finished, I’m very proud, looking forward to the future, and building on from this year.
Do you have any pre-race rituals?
The normal things are kind of the driver warmups, and light reaction drills. I’ll take an espresso before I drive. That’s pretty much it. I take my weight as well—very important for the team. But apart from that, it’s pretty straightforward. I used to have all these lucky bracelets as well, but when I was in the hospital last time, they cut them all off, so now I don’t have any of them.
Besides it being the end of the season, what do you think makes the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix so special?
I’d say firstly, it being the last race. There’s that atmosphere that, you know, it’s nice to finish on a night race. It’s always a big party here. It’s a nice place in the world to be, and it always puts on a good show. I feel like this circuit, it’s pretty good for racing on as well. I think Abu Dhabi, and straight away, you think of the nightlife, the fireworks after the race and all that kind of thing, and the concerts.
How would you describe your sense of style?
Pretty relaxed, I’d say. It’s more like streetwear/sportswear. I really like Aimé Leon, that kind of style. I’m not too much of a fashion guy if I’m truthfully honest, but my girlfriend is, and she’s been getting into it more and more and I’m enjoying it. I’m enjoying, I guess, her introducing me to the world of fashion.
What are your post-F1 plans for this year?
Holiday! I go back to Thailand. I’m bringing my whole family with me as well. It’s the first time my mom’s been to Thailand in maybe 10 years. So it’s really nice to have the opportunity to be able to bring everyone back. I have four siblings, and all of their boyfriends and girlfriends [are coming], my family, my girlfriend’s family too, so it’s a big one. We’re spending Christmas and New Year’s in Thailand.