Alex Albon's return to Formula 1 in 2022 represented a feel-good story for a popular driver who created positivity throughout the Williams factory, garage and the Formula 1 paddock.
Yet it wasn't only within the team and sport that Alex made his presence felt: he also used his voice and influence all year long to help those who aren't as fortunate.
Just one month into the 2022 season, our No23 made the most of the long-haul journey to Australia to take a pit stop in Thailand.
Although Alex's connection to the country is obvious – he races under the Thai flag – there's a further link, thanks to his former Williams Racing Team Principal, Jost Capito.
Jost's brother, Volker Capito, has lived in Bangkok since the early 2000s, and he made it his life's mission to help the children of the Wat Sakraeo Orphanage by founding the Iceman Charity
Alex took the opportunity to visit the orphanage that thousands of children call home to see Volker's hard work for himself.
The visit proved to be life-changing for all involved. Albono met the children, helped serve food, played football, and unexpectedly had his hair dyed red.
Many of the kids at the orphanage support Liverpool FC, and while they take part in more usual subjects like languages and maths, dyeing hair is also one of their favourite activities. Needless to say, when they asked if they could dye Alex’s dark locks red, he didn't hesitate for a second.
With points scored at the Australian Grand Prix, seven positions gained at Imola, and another top-10 finish in Miami, our now red-haired racer was a man inspired, and used the increased media interest to draw attention to this noble cause.
Then, in May, on the Thursday before the Spanish Grand Prix a new hair salon opened at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
But, this was no normal salon, it was a pop-up salon named ‘Albonos’.
Several members of the Williams team, along with many other familiar figures in the paddock, dropped by to imitate Albono’s look, with the man himself acting as stylist-in-chief.
Alex gives Sky Sports broadcaster David Croft the red-hair treatment in Barcelona
Unsurprisingly, this attracted considerable attention across the media and shone an all important light on the charity’s amazing work.
Those point-scoring performances from Alex helped more than just in the Drivers' and Constructors' championships, too, as each time we scored points, Jost personally donated to the Iceman Charity.
Although it wasn’t possible for Alex to personally dye the hair of his fans, AA23 aficionados were able to get involved in the cause by purchasing a Power Up tee that we launched on our official online store, with £5 from every sale going directly to the orphanage.
The donations from Jost, along with Alex's and the t-shirt sales, were further boosted by a plan hatched in Thailand for AA23’s next trip to Asia.
Alex reveals his incredible Singapore helmet
One generous and ultimately successful bidder paid over £84,000 to own Albono's lid, giving a massive financial boost to the fundraising effort.
Now sporting a blonde hairdo, Alex revisited Thailand
following the conclusion of F1’s post-season test.
The orphanage has renamed the sports hall "Alex Albon Hall" in honour of the man that helped make the essential renovation possible.
On his social media, Albono explained the work that the Iceman Charity is undertaking thanks to the kind donations by everyone:
"This will help to completely restore, and even add to, the previous sports hall. This sports hall will of course be used for sports, such as soccer, basketball and badminton but also assemblies, plays and music performances.
"A place for the community. I got to meet all the kids that designed my helmet as well as the 2,500 other children… it's such a special place and I can't explain to you just how amazing these children are.
“They are so kind and so positive it really puts your life into perspective and makes you realise how grateful you are."
Alex, from everyone here at Williams, you’re a tremendous driver, but an even better person.