Alex Albon has opened up about how he felt the two high-profile clashes he had with Lewis Hamilton impacted his confidence during the 2020 Formula 1 season.
Albon and Hamilton collided on two occasions during the British-Thai racer's time at Red Bull, with the first incident occurring at Interlagos in late 2019 as Albon adjusted to life with his new team.
With Albon eyeing up a strong podium finish, potentially even a victory, he had managed to largely complete an overtaking move on Hamilton when the Mercedes driver tapped the Red Bull's rear-right wheel and spun him off and out of the points.
Early in 2020, a similar incident occurred in Austria – Albon again looking at the potential for a strong podium finish until Hamilton tagged his rear-right wheel and sent him into the gravel.
With Albon's self-confidence crumbling during 2020, despite eventually securing his first podium at Mugello, he was replaced by Sergio Perez for 2021.
After a year on the sidelines working as a development and reserve driver for Red Bull, he secured a racing return with Williams for 2022.
Does Albon feel Hamilton had an effect on his overall results?
Asked whether the two contentious moments with Hamilton proved pivotal in terms of giving Red Bull the assurances they needed about his potential, Albon explained that he never viewed the clashes as game-changing for his career.
"No, I don't," he said on the Beyond the Grid podcast.
"Of course, if I had better results, it would have put things in a completely different mindset. I do remember my first race or second race in Austria, one of the races, I was getting bashed like, 'Where's your performance? Where's your lap time?'
"I was like, 'Hold on a minute, it wasn't even that bad. Everyone chill out a bit!'
"I think a result like that would have quietened it all down. I would have had the next few races - six, seven races - with a bit less of that noise.
"The noise started from the very first race of the year. It was quite intense [for me], 'What's going wrong, what's going on?'
"For sure, it would have helped, but I never, ever would blame Lewis for any of my, 'What's happened to me?', in that sense. It's all on me."
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Albon: Hamilton apologised for the collisions
With Hamilton publicly apologising for the Brazil clash after the race, Albon said he and the seven-time World Champion shared a plane travelling back to Europe – although there was no interaction between them.
"We didn't chat; he was in first class and I was in business," he said.
"I was looking for the promotion up to the top, but I didn't get it!"
Laughing about the situation, Albon revealed that then-McLaren driver Carlos Sainz was granted a call-up to business class after originally being seat-mates.
"Carlos [Sainz] was sitting next to me and they brought him up! They were like, 'Carlos, you can come up to first!'," Albon added.
"If I'd been in first class, I'd have been better rested for the next race – a domino effect!'"
Returning to a more serious tone, Albon said that the incidents between them were less black-and-white than he'd originally felt at the time.
"It's one of those things," he said.
"He apologised and, honestly, I still look at them - especially the Brazil one - I could still have done my part in avoiding a crash in some places as well.
"I always look at crashes between drivers and always think [that] it's never 100-0 [in terms of blame]. There's always a little bit of give and take in most of these incidents.
"The Austria one, though, I do think it's his fault!"
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