Surprise F1 podium finisher Alex Albon's confidence never wavered

Three days before Formula 1's inaugural Tuscan Grand Prix last weekend, ESPN sat down with Red Bull Racing's Alex Albon and the conversation moved to his prolonged wait for a podium finish.

Throughout the interview, Albon, 24, spoke with a maturity that is not always associated with a young driver.

He talked about focusing on the processes and believing that success would come as a result. He said he was not affected by the success of his peers -- namely Pierre Gasly, the driver he replaced at Red Bull midway through 2019 who won his first F1 race the previous weekend at the Italian GP.

It all paid off Sunday as Albon climbed atop the podium for the first time in his short F1 career. He kept his nerve during a chaotic race at Mugello and overtook Renault's Daniel Ricciardo late for a third-place finish.

"It's really very simply about self-improvement, working well with the team and focusing on the little things, and not looking around," said Albon. "I definitely feel that I'm improving as a driver, not just on the circuit but also off the track so that's still the goal. ...

"From where I see it, things haven't really gone our way so far and I feel our results haven't been very representative of what we can do. That's where got to keep push and we still have half a season left to do a good job."

Albon's podium finish was the perfect response to speculation that Red Bull should re-sign AlphaTauri's Gasly for the 2021 season.

"[Gasly's win] doesn't make a difference," said Albon. "It's nice to see other drivers doing well but I wouldn't say it motivates me more, because I'm a pretty motivated guy as it is."

Albon wrote himself into the history books at Mugello by becoming the first driver from Thailand -- whose flag he drives under -- to achieve a podium finish, and his achievement would have likely been cheered across much of the continent.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, races in Vietnam, China, Singapore and Japan have been cancelled in 2020, although the season will still feature a double-header in Bahrain and the Abu Dhabi GP.

When asked how much he would miss visiting Asia this year, Albon replied: "It's a big loss. I feel like we've missed the Asian fans, who are very passionate and good fun to be with. ... I'm sure we miss it, but it's also a shame for the fans in Asia to not be able to watch us race."