Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Hungaroring, 2019

Race-winning seat is a “great opportunity” – Albon

2019 F1 season

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Alexander Albon says he has been given a “great opportunity” to join a race-winning team halfway through his first F1 season.

This weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix will be Albon’s first race for Red Bull following his sudden promotion from Toro Rosso in place of Pierre Gasly. His new team mate Max Verstappen has won two of the last four races.

“Not many drivers get the chance to drive a car capable of winning a race so early in their F1 career, so it’s a great opportunity to be driving for Red Bull,” said Albon.

“It’s a big step, a big difference, and the factory’s a lot closer to my house which is handy,” he added.

Albon, who has started just 12 races so far and managed a best finish of sixth, says he is still improving as an F1 driver.

“We know what the car is capable of and we’ve seen what Max has been able to do this year. I want to see what it’s like compared to what I’m used to, but at the same time, I know this weekend is my first time in the car, I’m still learning and improving as a driver and there’s definitely more to come.

“I know one of the main differences will be the noise and attention that comes with the move but I’m keeping my feet on the ground. I’m just focusing on the job I have to do for Spa, I’ll be doing a lot of listening and observing.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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26 comments on “Race-winning seat is a “great opportunity” – Albon”

  1. I’m excited to see how he gets on. I think if he can qualify and finish comfortably in the top 6, this weekend will have been a success. Red Bull have a tendency to get better over the back end of the season, so he has a real shot at some podiums and possibly wins if something crazy happens.

    I can’t see him comparing too favourably against Verstappen, but I’m fairly sure he’ll be closer than Gasly was.

    1. @ben-n For sure I think ‘comfortably in the top 6’ with only Max, the two Mercs, and the two Ferraris ahead of him would be a dream result and no more than RBR should expect, and indeed would be impressive for his first weekend with them. Podiums and wins? For sure only if something crazy happens I would think, and that potentially would seal his future if it did happen, as long as he is consistently strong at the ‘non-crazy’ races. He now has a different pressure on him, so this is quite a test.

      1. I’d put a bet on him nicking a podium before the year is out; somewhere like Mexico, where the Red Bull is usually fairly strong. I really can’t see him beating Verstappen often (if at all), so following him home is the next best thing and in reality will be all Red Bull want.

        1. I can’t see him heading Max by the end of any of the remaining races, presuming healthy cars for both, so a podium for AA would mean two RBR’s on a podium at some point which would not only be massive for AA, but would be massive for Honda too. They’ve already exceeded my expectations for them for this season big time. Gonna be fascinating to watch. I think RBR’s dream season at this point, aside from having already achieved wins, will be to have had this driver swap, which no doubt was not a decision taken lightly, result in them securing second in the WCC ahead of Ferrari.

  2. I’ve got my fingers crossed for Albon. I was happy for him when he got his F1 opportunity, I’m hoping the Red Bull system doesn’t chew him up and spit him out (again) because he’s clearly quick and seems like a well adjusted, likeable chap which is quite rare in F1 these days.

    1. @geemac Quite rare? Really? Can’t say I go along with that.

      1. @geemac ‘Personable’ perhaps, he’s comes across as very sincere and conversational. Kimi is likeable but for very different reasons.

    2. Well, this year’s crop of newcomers all fit that description: “seems like a well adjusted, likeable chap”.

  3. Realistically, the only way Kvyat could be in the 2nd Red Bull in Melbourne next March is that he’d massively out-perform Gasly with Albon slumping as worst (or worst) than Gasly did at the same time. The same equally applies to Gasly’s chances of getting back to the senior team for the opening round of next season.

    1. I really can’t see Gasly finding his way back into a Red Bull, especially so quickly. He wasn’t just slightly off the pace; he was awful and showed no sign of getting better. If he gets the chance, he should try to switch teams, as personally I can’t see him getting back to the main team.

  4. Fairy tale written all over It. Leclerc at least drove a Full season for Sauber before joinning a top team.
    Not having a known last name (as Rosberg, Verstappen, Palmer, Magnussen…) and already being backed up by a top team is impressive.
    Much like Hamilton to McLaren back in the days.
    Objective 1) Don’t crash!
    Objective 2) Don’t get lapped!
    Objective 3) Don’t get mixed in the midfield!
    Good enough for 1st Race :-)

    1. Objective 2: Dont get lapped by your own teammate who is on the way to race win.

      1. @ Chaitanya. Better!

  5. I really hope he is able to get some podiums this year. It would be great if he does wel this Sunday already. Maybe get into the fight with Ferrari and Mercedes

    1. Who wants to see Red Bull pull a 1-2 before the end of the year?
      A) Horner
      B) Honda
      C) Myself
      D) You
      E) All of the above
      Mark the correct answer.

      1. Done.

        Oh crap! now i got a blue spot on my monitor; thanks!

  6. It’s only a race winning seat thanks to Verstappen. Red Bull were being called a ‘Tier 2’ team last season. Honda have a long way to go to catch Mercedes.
    Still, I wish Albon all the best. A good character who seems to be able to keep the car together and looks like he could give as good as he gets in an intense battle.

    1. @bigjoe This. I was gonna say, to what extent is it a race-winning seat? Just because Verstappen took the other car to two wins and a pole, doesn’t mean (any) other driver would be able to do the same. The Merc, OK, I can accept that for most drivers that would be a race winning seat. But the RB isn’t and I doubt Albon will win, even if he beats Verstappen.

      1. Quite so; cracking job from Max, but its very much arguable that picking up those results wasn’t truly representative (Merc with cooling issues in Austria + driver errors in Germany – and both Ferraris failing in Quallie there). Fair enough, the Hungary pole was won in a straight fight, but even then (apparently) based on gambling that a pure quallie setup + track position would be a winning strategy. Against Lewis, it turned out not to be.

        I could see RB and Ferrari having an edge at favourable tracks though, so .. maybe.

  7. It’s only a race winning seat thanks to Verstappen

    How do we really know, though? Ricciardo he won races in it the past few years, just as Max did and that was with a Renault engine….. The problem with Gasly is that he isn’t very good and Albon now is thrown into that seat prematurely. We have no way of really knowing for sure if Verstappen is getting the absolute Max out of this car (pun intended)

    1. Hmm…not sure I grasp what you mean entirely. Surely we have some way of knowing, since Max has won a few races. Isn’t it common knowledge that the Honda pu still isn’t quite up to the level of Merc’s and Ferrari’s? If Max isn’t maxing the car, I don’t know what maxing could be defined as then. We know it is not a WCC leading Merc, and we know it can take the fight to the Ferraris, at what type of tracks still remaining to be seen. Can the RBR’s take the fight to Ferrari at Spa and Monza that are supposed to favour Ferrari? We’ll just have to see. But regardless I’m pretty confident that Max is as good as anyone on the grid if not better at maxing whatever he has under him on any given Sunday with what each of those day’s unique circumstances brings.

  8. Its not a race winning seat its gaslys car, which is definitely not capable of winning races unlike Maxs car

  9. Is Albon the least experienced driver ever to be driving a Redbull? Just 12 races into his F1 career and he is a Redbull driver.
    A great opportunity for him to make a mark and make an impression. I think right now even Kvyat is stronger than Gasly. Have to be seen how he fares against Kvyat at Torro Rosso.

    1. @amg44 The least experienced since Robert Doornbos in 2006:

  10. Target for the rest of the season: do better than Gasly did.

  11. Very interested to see how he gets on with the new spec Honda this weekend. Especially the qually pace of the Red Bull with the new engine. He did drive from 20th to 10th in China (?) already so I expect he could still finish 6th or higher.

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