Formula One driver Alex Albon even surprised himself by recovering from his recent appendicitis and respiratory failure in time to be ready for this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix.
Albon jumps back into the Williams FW44 for Friday's first practice session — just three weeks after being hospitalized with appendicitis. He fell ill during the Italian GP and had surgery on Sept. 10. Then, after suffering respiratory failure following his surgery, he was moved into an intensive care unit.
Now the 26-year-old Albon is raring to go under the floodlights at the Marina Bay street circuit.
“I’m good. It feels good to be back. I feel ready; I feel as fit as I can be. We had a good week of training, two weeks almost, to get back to where we are today," Albon said Thursday. “I don’t think we truthfully had in mind (returning at) Singapore, but with the speed of the recovery it was definitely a possible thing. We sat long and hard to think about it. I feel that I’m ready. We’ll wait until FP1 (Friday's first practice) to see where it’s at.”
He couldn't have picked a more difficult track to test his recovery, at a night race on a twisting track where relentless heat — even late at night — and intense humidity make for arguably the most exhausting conditions in F1.
“We’ll see how it goes. We’re realistic and we know that we’re coming to the most difficult race of the year," he said. "We do have to be mindful of that. But I’ve been karting and it’s felt OK. No pain.”
Albon explained that there was no miracle to his comeback: just patience and not pushing the body too hard, too soon.
“It was more bed recovery to begin with. It was quite a tricky one, because you’re basically waiting for your lungs to recover," he said. “At the same time, your body can’t move as well as it normally can. You can’t just jump back into normal training, you have to slowly build into it.”
Albon's body responded well, though.
“It was Monday last week when we really started to push it and see what we can do," he said. “We treated it like a 9-5 job, training and recovery. Day by day it was getting better.”
Albon is confident in his body's natural recovery process and, with his mind clear, he does not harbor any fears.
“In terms of actually the surgery side, I’m not worried about that at all. I know that’s fully recovered,” he said. “It’s more just the after effects of being in intensive care, basically, and the toll that has on your body. But like I said, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could be able to race.”
Even though he was seriously ill, Albon prefers to look at the bigger picture and does not view what happened as a major setback.
“I’ve been very lucky. I’ve had very good doctors around me, who were in Italy, to get me back into a good place,” he said. “So I feel very fortunate. And yeah, I only missed out on a race. So it’s not a big deal.”
Albon joined Williams this year after George Russell left to join Mercedes, where he replaced the fading Valtteri Bottas.
Dutch driver Nyck De Vries stepped in for him at Monza and drove with considerable aplomb to finish ninth.
Albon unexpectedly woke up just in time to watch it
“I was supposed to be asleep for a few days. And I woke up pretty much 30 minutes before the start of the race. So I could watch it,” he said. “It was frustrating to watch, the heart rate went up a little bit, and they were keeping an eye on me and they told me I had to switch it off at some point.”
De Vries staked a very strong claim for an F1 seat next year.
The Williams seat remains open, with the team releasing Canadian driver Nicholas Latifi at the end of this season.
More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports