Formula One drivers are renowned for pushing their body and mind to the limits.
While maintaining their concentration for the duration of a race, they endure huge amounts of g force, speeds of approximately 300km/hr, and the loss of several kilograms in body mass due to dehydration.
Just three weeks after surviving a stay in intensive care, Williams driver Alex Albon will push himself to these limits this weekend at the Singapore Grand Prix – the most difficult race on the calendar.
During the Italian Grand Prix weekend last month, Albon fell ill with appendicitis and was taken to hospital for surgery.
But he suffered post-surgery complications which led to respiratory failure and he was transferred to intensive care on mechanical ventilation, his team later announced.
“I was in contact with his family on Saturday night,” fellow driver George Russell told the BBC earlier this week, “because it was looking very scary at one point.”
And so, on that Sunday afternoon, the 26-year-old was waking up in hospital instead of racing around the famed Monza circuit.
“I woke up pretty much 30 minutes before the start of the race,” he said, according to Sky Sports. “It was frustrating to watch, and the heart rate went up a little bit. They were keeping an eye on me and they told me they had to switch it off.”
After recovering in hospital for a further two days, Albon was discharged and returned home.
“The doctors did an amazing job. I’m very grateful they got me in good health and out of the hospital by Tuesday. I’ve been in Monaco since then and I’ve been starting to walk around,” he said in a video posted on his Instagram account.
Since then, Albon has turned his focus towards the Singapore Grand Prix, documenting his preparation on social media with videos from a cryotherapy chamber and gym.
“It’s quite a tricky one because you’re basically waiting for your lungs to recover. And at the same time your body can’t move as well as it normally can,” he said, per Sky Sports.
“You can’t just jump back into normal training, you have to slowly build it up. We really started to push it last Monday. I treated training and recovery like a 9-to-5 job.
“Day by day it was getting better. Truthfully, we didn’t think Singapore was on the cards, but with the speed of the recovery, it definitely became possible.
“I feel like I am ready, and I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could race.”
Albon last raced on the Marina Bay Street Circuit in 2019 when Singapore last hosted a grand prix, finishing in sixth place for Red Bull.
On his first outings in the Williams car on this circuit, Albon recorded a P16 in both Free Practice 1 and 2, and qualified for Sunday’s race in P19.
“Good to get back in the car,” he told his team on Friday. “Obviously it’s hot out there but I’m feeling okay … I wouldn’t say it’s a breeze, I’d be lying but everyone’s struggling out there.
“But we’re a little bit off the pace. We expected that, this weekend, the car doesn’t really suit this place. But main things to take away from today: I’m feeling okay and the car is feeling okay.”