Alex Albon: 'I lent George Russell my bike... and ended up with a broken collarbone'

F1

Alex Albon may have George Russell to thank for his 2022 Williams F1 drive, but the pair's friendship could have cost Albon his racing career thanks to a bizarre bicycle crash

Alex Albon touches broken collarbone with George Russell

Albon back in the F2 paddock at the Red Bull Ring in 2017 with after GP3 driver Russell, after breaking his collarbone

Zak Mauger/F1 via Getty Images

Alex Albon returns to F1 this year, partly thanks to his trusty friend, George Russell, who put in a good word as he departed Williams.

Albon joked that he owes Russell a few beers but, in a Motor Sport podcast, the former Red Bull driver reveals that he could easily have found himself regretting the friendship after a bizarre bicycle crash threatened his racing dreams.

In our My big break podcast series, Albon tells Chris Medland how his first Formula 2 season in 2017 was derailed after he lent Russell — then racing in GP3 — his bike. The pair lived close to each other and trained together as they moved up the racing ranks.

“We were sharing the same trainer,” says Albon. “[George] was always coming around, we would always have lunch and dinner together, he was like part of the family.

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“We were going to the forest for a cycle and the rear brakes weren’t working on my spare bike. It didn’t really affect me because I was using my main bike.

“I would say George isn’t the best cyclist in the world — I cycled more than him [so] I was like, ‘George, you take the good bike, I’ll take the one without the rear brakes’, which I thought was fine.

“We went somewhere new, which is always a little bit dangerous. But it looked fine to me. We didn’t realise at the time, but we were going down a horse track. And that was a horse jump thing — a big stumped tree and the branches coming across the pathway. Behind the branch, there was a huge drop.

“When I saw it, I panicked. I hit the brakes. And obviously my rear brake didn’t work. So I ended up doing kind of this front flip, this endo over the jump. I landed on my collarbone, broke my collarbone. And that was it.”

“From that point onwards, I had a terrible season.”

The broken bone forced Albon to miss the next two races in Baku, interrupting a promising start to the season with leading team ART, where he had recorded top-eight finishes in the first six races.

Although he would go on to finish on the podium twice that year, Albon says that his season went downhill after the crash.

“Still to this day I don’t actually know but I’m pretty sure now: [Sergei Sirotkin] who replaced me had a crash. Quite a big crash in the castle section. And had this damage.

“The first race back was the Red Bull Ring which was ok but I was expecting a bit more. From that point onwards, I had a terrible season. It was one of those seasons that never clicked.

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“I still believe there was something wrong with the car after the crash. It was never the same. It was one of those things. It was disappointing at the time.

“I think I was third in the championship before the incident to finishing absolutely nowhere — for me, which in a top team was was devastating. And at the same time, you know, it wasn’t good enough.

“And that, at that point, you know, I didn’t have the funding to go again. And I was back to square one. I was back to this feeling like I wasn’t going to be able to race.”

Albon says that he and ART parted on “not great terms” and his career was only saved thanks to a post-season test with the DAMS team, who took him on for 2018, where he finished third in the championship, leading to a Toro Rosso Formula 1 drive in 2019, and ultimately to his 2022 seat at Williams.


Click below to listen to the full podcast with Alex Albon