F1 driver Alex Albon joins The Rush to chat with Jared about the magic behind the upcoming Miami Grand Prix, how “Drive to Survive” has altered the course of F1 in America, the physical pain of racing an F1 car, and how he and his girlfriend, LPGA Tour pro Lily Muni He compete against each other on the course. The London-born F1 star tells us why he’s more like Mr. Bean than James Bond and reveals the secret to stealing an F1 car. Plus, Alex and Williams Racing have partnered with Duracell and the Make-A-Wish Foundation to provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Ryder, a young racing fan, who gets to shadow the driver and have a front row seat to the Miami Grand Prix.
JARED QUAY: The Formula One car, does it have keys? Do you lock it when you leave? Is there an ignition or do you literally get in and it just starts? How does that work?
ALEX ALBON: There's a code. So there's a couple of switches you need to do. And anyone could start an F1 car if the code. So it's just like a little sequence to do. And it's not to protect anything, it's just to make sure that when we're in the car and we're getting ready, we don't knock a button and accidently start the car.
- Oh, OK.
ALEX ALBON: But anyone can drive it. If anyone wants to hijack an F1 car, just make sure you know the code and then you'll be fine.
JARED QUAY: What's up, everybody. I'm here with F1 star and driver for Williams racing, Alex Albon. How are you doing today, Alex?
ALEX ALBON: Hey. Good, thank you very much. Very hot, sweating. It's very humid here.
JARED QUAY: Sounds like Miami. You're racing in the Miami Grand Prix this weekend. It's the first time Florida has hosted a Formula One race in 63 years. And 80,000 fans are expected. How cool is it to be part of that kind of history?
ALEX ALBON: It's crazy actually. I have to say that Formula One right now is racing the American market hard. We're entering Miami and we got Vegas planned in the future. It's the first time I've been to a racetrack where you truly feel this boom. I mean, the hype coming here has been massive.
JARED QUAY: Do you think this is because of the "Drive to Survive" show on Netflix? And how has that changed the American view to F1 drivers?
ALEX ALBON: It is. It has to be. My girlfriend from LA actually, so I spent a lot of time in America. And even during that time-- 2019 that was, when we first met to now-- coming over here, it's come to a point where the people will come up to me and it's like-- it's not like, oh, you're the F1 driver. It's actually, oh, you're that guy from Netflix.
I'm like a reality TV show guy rather than an actual driver. But that's the kind of way it is. And it's making the sport healthy. It's really transforming from Forumla One.
JARED QUAY: I'm new to learning about this for myself. But I saw the pictures demonstrating how drivers are positioned in the car and I couldn't believe it. It looks so uncomfortable.
ALEX ALBON: It's not a good position to be in. It's almost like a fetal position. We're kind of just squished in there. We need be as low as possible because that helps the center of gravity as well. So we sit in almost a bucket and this foam comes around us. And then the team basically cuts the foam so we can get out of the bucket. And they scan the layer and they make it carbon.
So it's completely molded to us. Every bump is around us. But I have to say, we finish races, I have bruises everywhere. I have cuts on my back. It's pretty normal.
JARED QUAY: Oh wow. That's mind blowing right there. I had no idea.
You were born in London, you race under the Thai flag, you live in Monaco, and you train in Los Angeles. So you've pretty much been around the world. So what's your favorite city, and are you secretly James Bond?
ALEX ALBON: Am I what?
JARED QUAY: Are you James Bond? You've been in every city.
ALEX ALBON: OK, I love LA actually. I'm kind of an oldie I would say. Maybe I would love to live in not maybe LA, but more towards Santa Barbara or down towards a little bit quieter in that area. But I love spending time over in America. And I'm definitely not James Bond.
I don't have the coolness, I don't have the swagger, unfortunately. I'd be like more like Mr. Bean.
JARED QUAY: You mentioned your girlfriend Lily a couple of times. She's in the LPGA tour. And so my question is, as two professional athletes in a relationship, how competitive does it get?
ALEX ALBON: It gets competitive. We have a pretty strong nature in us to beat each other. The problem is, especially for me, she can't drive cars. So for her it's very difficult to beat me in what I do.
I mean, she-- no one has access to driving Forumla One cars so I can't showcase how much better I am than her at driving. But I can play golf. Anyone can play golf. So she will often destroy me playing golf. And it is extremely frustrating. I turn to her for help, but she's not a very good coach.
That's what I tell her, anyway. She tells me, she says to me, I don't know what to fix. It's all wrong. And I'm like, well, that really doesn't give me anything. I have something to go by. So I play golf very badly.
JARED QUAY: I'm not good at either golf or motorsport. If I had three years to prepare every day, what sport could I be better at, F1 driver or a golfer?
ALEX ALBON: F1 is impossible. I think you just start when you're 6 years old. I think if you want to be a really good golfer you also need to start young. But if you want to be a racing driver, you have to very young as well. Because you've got to get the feeling. It's good if-- first, you can't be scared.
And I feel like three years isn't enough time for you to not get scared.
JARED QUAY: Yeah, no definitely.
ALEX ALBON: But at least in golf, you can work on your swing. I mean, I'm saying this is if I'm a golf expert.
JARED QUAY: You're here, actually your partnered with Duracell. And I hear they hook you up with some pretty good company for this weekend in Miami. Can you tell me a little more about that?
ALEX ALBON: No, it's been amazing, honestly. With Ryder, he's a kid who's going through some tough times. And with Make A Wish, Duracell have basically created this opportunity where he's been able to come to the circuit.
He's actually kind of just off shot here. We've been spending the whole day together. And it's been a really special day. It feels like-- I can tell he's enjoying it. He's tired right now because we spent pretty much ten hours together in the humid weather. But it's been pretty good.
JARED QUAY: I'm sure Ryder's having the time of his life right now. Hey Alex, I hope you do the best you can at the Miami Grand Prix. And thank you for doing all the great things you're doing with Duracell, man. Have a great weekend, OK brother?
ALEX ALBON: Thank you guys. Thank you very much.