For several weeks Alex Albon has been riding around the F1 circuit dyed red. Behind this color is a personal commitment to a charity in Thailand.
Alexander Albon’s arrival at Williams for the 2022 season was a fantastic deal for both parties. The Anglo-Tai driver, on the other hand, has found a starting wheel after spending 2021 on the sidelines (and at the DTM). On the other hand, the team saw an opportunity to fill the void left by star George Russell, who departed for Mercedes, as a quick and experienced replacement.
Since climbing to Red Bull’s second seat in 2019, Albon has also become a celebrity, in Thailand, the country a dual-national driver has chosen to represent in F1. But upon signing with Williams, he learned from team boss Just Capito that he now had another connection to this country.
Jost’s younger brother, Volker Capito, has lived in Bangkok for over twenty years. After being part of the family team that won the 1985 Dakar Prize in the truck category, the German moved to Thailand to run an event consultancy firm. With his logistical expertise, he’s a pillar of big events like the Race of Champions, but his involvement in the motorsports world (unlike Jost) ends here.
Indeed, since 2004, Volcker has made it his personal mission to help the approximately 2,500 disadvantaged children living in the Wat Sakayo orphanage, a hundred kilometers north of the Thai capital.
Albon supports the charitable foundation founded by Volker Capito (left), brother of chief Williams Jost
In this Buddhist country, the New Year is not celebrated as much as it is outside, but many people take this opportunity to do a good deed. Thus, to mark the beginning of 2004, Kapito and one of his friends decided to donate 25 kg of rice to the Wat Sakayo Orphanage. The following year, Capito donated 2,500 ice creams, earning him the nickname Children’s Snowman.
“I saw [qu’il y avait] Urgent need in the orphanageCapito male. “I thought these kids might have never eaten ice cream, so next time I made sure to bring some ice cream. Let me tell you, it was quite a challenge trying to ‘bring 2,500 ice creams without melting them!'” “
“People were wondering if I should do something better than buy all that ice cream, but seeing these kids start crying, [le fait] To bring them all that ice cream was obviously not a waste of money. It’s something every child wants.”
Through the Iceman Charity, Capito has continued to be increasingly involved in the orphanage, ensuring 2,500 mouths are fed and facilities are improved. While the government is concerned with funding education, the orphanage relies on outside donors to raise the standard of living above the minimum. Over the years, the Capito Charitable Foundation has raised about 80 million baht, or roughly 2.2 million euros.
Albon plays soccer with the children of the Wat Sakayo orphanage
Just Capito, the brother who runs the Williams team, told the Thai driver this story, and when Albon visited the country in April, ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, a visit to the orphanage was arranged. Playing soccer with the kids and distributing lunch — with ice cream for dessert, of course — Albon was struck by the positive behavior and self-discipline of the orphans.
“Jost told me about his brother’s engagement.”Albon said Motorsport.com at the Spanish Grand Prix. “He showed me the things they were doing and it was huge. It’s a really huge village. I had to go there, so we spent a day at the orphanage.”
“What impressed me the most is how [les enfants] They were grateful for everything despite their history. Some had a disastrous childhood, no matter what. Seeing these young children grateful and smiling was a really powerful picture. I will never forget her, she made a great impression on me. How can they be positive? It’s a testament to what they’re doing in the orphanage.”
“I don’t know if it’s part of Buddhism in general, but you have to keep in mind that there is probably one adult for every 50 children. The children should be well-behaved, do the housework, and make their beds. This place is clean, it’s really impressive And they have done an amazing job of making it sustainable.”
Albon dyed his hair red
Wat Sakaeo aims to prepare children for adult life by teaching them several skills, in addition to traditional language and mathematics lessons. And Albon discovered that dyeing was also part of the program!
He added: “These kids are Liverpool fans. In Thailand, Liverpool and Manchester United are the biggest clubs [les deux équipes jouent en rouge, ndlr]. Red is also a lucky color in most of Asia, so the kids wanted to dye my hair. Of course, I had to accept.”
“I spent the rest of the trip in Bangkok and my hair was still dyed. We went straight to the Thai Tourist Board, they are very important people…My hair was bright red! That’s how it all began, then we had a great race in Melbourne, so the tradition continues.”
Albon’s gesture is clearly not a publicity stunt. While playing football with the children, he is barefoot, takes off his shoes to be on an equal footing. It is also for this reason that he immediately agreed to dye his hair. A powerful gesture that was much appreciated in Thailand.
Albon distributes food
It was the red-haired Albon who scored Williams’ first point of the season in Melbourne before adding two more points in Miami. Thai results were welcomed with great enthusiasm at the orphanage, also because Just Capito pledged to make a personal donation to his brother’s charity for every point scored.
“I talk to Volcker a lot because we’re so close”Williams’ manager told Motorsport.com. “I told him I wanted to be successful [avec Williams] And that I will donate a certain amount to the orphanage for each point [inscrit]. So they were very happy after the spa! If you go there, it’s not easy to see 150 boys living in one room, that’s all they have. I really appreciate what Volcker is doing there.”
In the orphanage as in the Barcelona circuit, red hair is in fashion. Williams even set up a suite next to his motorhome to offer a free “Albon haircut.” Several members of the team, including Jost Capito, as well as other characters from the ring have stopped there since the start of the weekend.
But the pilot’s contribution to the cause does not stop at the dyeing. He and Capito became patrons of the charity and supported the last fundraiser to renovate the orphanage’s gym, which will be renamed “Alex Albon Room” once work is complete.
Perhaps reluctant to embrace his celebrity status in Thailand due to his introversion, he was able to crystallize how he could use his notoriety to turn things around with his visit to the orphanage. Inspired by the battles led by Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, Albon is now a committed driver.
“I’m not a very extroverted person”confirmed. “I’m quite shy, I don’t like doing things in public. But I think there is a responsibility to be able to do good. And there are a lot of good examples. Just to watch my colleagues, people like Louis or Sebastian do amazing things for those on the outside. [de la F1]. “
“When the kids asked to dye my hair, I knew right away that I was going to Melbourne with [des cheveux] bright red But it was a great way to get attention for the association and donations. I really feel Thai and I want to do more and more projects that can provide opportunities for people, children and anyone in Thailand. Obviously I feel in a good position to try to help. This is an opportunity for me to do the right thing. We were able to make a lot of money and we won’t stop, we want to keep going.”
A commitment that makes Just Capito proud, and the Williams boss hopes other drivers will follow: “I think it is important and they should do. Having someone like [Albon] Children have a great influence on them. It’s not just about the money coming in, it’s about feeling like someone is on their side.”