Alex Albon says that he has questioned whether he was actually enjoying his time in F1 during his last race season with Red Bull in 2020.
The British-Thai driver had been promoted to the team midway through 2019 from their sister outfit Toro Rosso, with Pierre Gasly being sent back to the smaller squad following his struggles to match the pace of Max Verstappen.
Albon had a strong start to his time with Red Bull but, like Gasly, was not able to compete at the level of Verstappen for much of the 2020 campaign.
At the end of the year, Albon was replaced in the race team by Sergio Perez, and spent a year on the sidelines as their test and reserve driver before returning to the grid with Williams for the 2022 season.
Albon reflects on pressure he felt in 2020
When asked on the Beyond The Grid podcast about appearing more relaxed this year, Albon said: "I think that's fair."
On what has influenced this change in his demeanour, the 26-year-old opened up about how he had been reflecting on the stress he previously felt in his last full F1 campaign in 2020.
"I realised I was very stressed in 2020," Albon explained.
"And it's very simple, but it's like, why stress? What's the point of working yourself up over nothing? Because it is a stressful business, this, and I looked back at 2020 and I thought to myself, 'Did you really enjoy it?'
"Of course, I enjoy racing, I enjoy driving, but everything that came with it, just the... It's really the pressure I put myself under more than anything else. I'm my biggest critic. It was stressful."
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After reflecting on this, Albon felt that it was important to lessen some of the added stresses on himself.
"I realised, [you've] got to let that side of you go," he said.
"We're all competitive, and we all want to win, and we're all under pressure to some extent – we are, for sure, I can tell you we are. But I feel like, I've already been sacked, and I feel inner peace in a way.
"I feel I'm in a good place. I'm happy, I'm enjoying my racing, and that sounds a very basic thing, but one of the most important things to be doing as a racing driver is to [be] making sure that you're actually enjoying it."
When asked whether this type of enjoyment makes him a better racing driver, Albon commented: "For sure, yeah. I think, when you feel like your back's against the wall, that's never good in that sense."
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