Alexander Albon may have suffered a nightmare start to his Formula 1 test debut by spinning off track after four corners but demonstrated fortitude to end his day with 132 laps completed and fourth place on the timesheet for Toro Rosso.

While Albon secured an unwanted record of potentially the quickest-ever rookie crash, the Thai driver bounced back to set the second-highest tally of laps of any driver – only behind leader Charles Leclerc’s 157 laps for Ferrari.

The 22-year-old, who became a late signing for Toro Rosso after the team ditched Brendon Hartley, took comfort from the most experienced driver on the grid Kimi Raikkonen who suffered an almost identical spin on day one of  pre-season testing.

Albon blamed the very cold temperatures and unfamiliarity with an F1 car on his test debut.

“It’s quite funny as I’ve had that experience before, spinning on an out lap, so I tried not to think about it too much,” Albon said. “It reassured me that Kimi did it, but of course in the morning session after I span I was like a dog with its tail between its legs. It was okay in the end.

“The problem is that it is so, so cold that you cannot drive slowly so as soon as you drive too slowly your tyres get too cold and then it becomes unpredictable and like driving on ice.

“It is not the nicest experience when the track is five degrees and you don’t know the car so you yourself aren’t driving quickly because you are scared of spinning, but then you do spin, it is like a cycle.”

Having mentally reset himself after the false start, Albon reportedly impressed his Toro Rosso squad with his lap times in the STR14 having effectively completed two race distances on his debut and ended the day with a best effort of 1m 19.301s - just over one second off Leclerc and one-tenth quicker than teammate’s Daniil Kvyat fastest lap from day one.

“I think after the morning I got into my rhythm and it was a smooth day as we had no issues,” he said. “I had a couple of offs but I was exploring the limits and exploring what the car could do. It’s been a really good day.”

Albon’s memorable debut was capped by a near-miss moment with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg in the pit lane with the Thai driver playing down the incident.

“I didn’t really see it, you get the call to come out and then I looked in my mirrors and there was a big yellow car behind me,” he said. “I thought, okay maybe we held him up a little bit, but I hope no damage was done.”



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