Alexander Albon, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2019

Albon admits Red Bull chance may have come too soon

2019 Belgian Grand Prix

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Alexander Albon has admitted his chance to drive for Red Bull may have come too early in his Formula 1 career.

While Albon is over a year older than Max Verstappen, he has started just 12 races to his new team mate’s 93. Albon only drove an F1 car for the first time earlier this year ahead of his F1 debut with Toro Rosso.

But while he admits the timing of his mid-season move into the top team isn’t idea, he sees it as an “opportunity” and isn’t “doubting myself.”

“You have to go into it as confident as you can,” said Albon. “I know how I am, I’ve only done six months in a Formula 1 car, so there is definitely room for improvement. When I look back at how I was in Melbourne and how I am now I definitely improved as a driver.

“So I know that kind of progress is only going to continue. Of course jumping into a car this early I do feel like in a way you wish it had happened a bit later. But I’m still very excited and I can’t wait to get started.”

Having only driven for Toro Rosso previously, Albon says he “can’t really tell from experience what it’s like to start with a new team midway through.”

However he said he’s already experienced the stresses of adapting to a new car once this year. “We did some sim this weekend just to try to get the first initial feeling,” he said. “Of course the cars are different but in the end they still have four wheels, we’ll get used to it.

“In terms of the whole feeling of not being ready… at the beginning of the year in February when I did drive the car I felt more in the same situation than I do now. That kind of anxiety, stress about what it’s going to be like, I kind of went through that already in January so coming into the summer break I was a lot more relaxed about it. And again we’ll see.”

Albon said he hasn’t been distracted by Pierre Gasly’s struggles in the car he will now be driving. “I wasn’t looking too much at Pierre in that sense, I was just focusing on myself.

“Of course I think Max is on top of his game right now so it will never be easy. With Pierre I wasn’t really involved in all of that I didn’t really look too much on where he was struggling. [I’m] just still kind of trying to do my own thing and trying to get on top of the car.”

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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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12 comments on “Albon admits Red Bull chance may have come too soon”

  1. Yeah, good to see that he is open enough to admit it will be a challenge to pick up. And that he will hopefully looking foremost at how he is developing himself while taking what he can learn from Max as much as possible and see where things go.

    1. Yeah well said. Sums it up nicely. The good news is he’s got a better car now to show us/them some stuff, so it is a golden opportunity that not everyone gets.

  2. I kinda get the sensation it’s come too early but in his position saying no – turning the option down would have looked ridiculous. He had no choice but to take it. I admire the guy for the sheer amount of pressure this year has been for him – going from no F1 support, Formula E, leaving FE before it starts and jumping into F1 with no experience and now finding himself sitting in a front running Red Bull. His career has been a rollercoaster, I just hope for his sake it’s not over before it starts.

    I hope he succeeds. If anything because the fairytale of him actually being successful would be a magical story, and the best encouragement that you shouldn’t give up on anything, because you never know what’s going to happen.

    1. As you, I hope he succeeds too, I like his mindset, and I’m impressed how maturely he drove for Toro Rosso. However, even if that’s a priceless opportunity to him, I think it’s really risky to be in this position, being thrown against the best talent in F1, that can crush him. I hope that won’t happen. He looks to me much more solid than the ultra hyped Gasly, but time will tell. It’s just a shame that nowadays he can’t really do the same Stewart and Emerson did for lotus back in the sixties and seventies. Both turned down Chapman’s offer to drive for them, Stewart not to be paired with Clark, and Emerson because he felt he wasn’t ready. To these two, this was the right move, and both became legends. Nowadays it’s do or die, and Red Bull it’s the best known example of career ending stories for young talents. Ruthless world , F1

  3. Honda has prepared their new engine and Albon will use it in Spa. But he will have to start from the back of the grid because of penalty for new engine. So, it seems there will be less stress for Albon on Saturday which is good for him in his first race as a Red Bull driver.

  4. It is definitely early in his career to be given this seat but to be honest I can’t see him doing worse than Gasly.
    Even if he only performs to the same level as Gasly then at least people will say that it simply proves how superior Max is in the Red Bull.
    He can’t do worse than Gasly can he? …. can he?

    (I’m not anti Gasly by the way – I predicted he would give Max problems this season – boy did I ever get that wrong.)

  5. Not sure I really understand this philosophy. There were other young drivers with limited experience dropped into an F1 car (Chris Amon, Ricardo Rodriguez or more recently Jean Alesi and Michael Schumacher come to mind) and nobody stressed over if it is right for them and their careers…or whether it would be better for them to be in less competitive car? This is great opportunity for Albon and he needs to either take it or drop it. I have good feeling about this kid and believe that he will do alright.

    1. @gpfacts, well, there are some flaws with a few of those analogies though – in the case of Amon, he’d been racing ex-Formula 1 cars in New Zealand before he entered F1 (such as driving Bruce McLaren’s ex-works Cooper T51), so he already had a couple of years of experience of Formula 1 spec cars before he entered Formula 1.

      In the case of Ricardo Rodriguez, there were quite a lot of questions over whether he should have been driving at his age and his level of experience. He’d already had one attempt to race at Le Mans rejected on age grounds, and Enzo Ferrari was rather wary about using him as a driver, as he also felt that Ricardo’s age and lack of experience made him a rather reckless driver.

      It’s also worth noting that, in both of the above cases, the Formula 1 cars of the time were operating to Formula 2 specifications, making the step up to Formula 1 less intimidating. In the case of Amon, it might even have been a downgrade in performance for him to race in Formula 1, as the ex-works Cooper T51 he’d driven was equipped with the older, but more powerful, 2.5 litre engines that had been in use before 1961.

      With Alesi, he’d followed a fairly standard pattern for the time of Formula 3 (spending a couple of seasons there, including winning the 1987 French Formula 3 title), followed by a couple of seasons in Formula 3000, with victory in that series as well. It also has to be borne in mind that Alesi’s move into F1 at that time was meant to happen at a later time – Ken Tyrrell was basically forced to fire Alboreto because Tyrrell had signed a deal with the Camel tobacco company, and Alboreto was sponsored by Marlboro.

      With Michael Schumacher, he’d had experience in Formula 3, and also within Group C sportscar racing – at the time, it was thought quite normal for drivers to switch back from one to the other, and indeed in some cases it helped revive the career of some drivers (Brundle’s success with the Jaguar XJR-14 in 1990 helped him get back into F1 in 1991).

      1. OK, let’s say Button or Kimi or indeed Verstappen are other examples…but the question remains: Would Albon be better off not getting this chance? Vergne never did and he disappeared from F1 quickly. Alguersuari did and disappeared just the same. Albon needs to deal with the fact that Red Bull are more often destroyers of careers, rather than makers…it’s his chance to shine and he needs to deliver as quick as possible.

  6. Albon is a year older than Verstappen. Wow. Never realised that.

  7. For me, Albon will have done well if he improves during the season and typically manages to stay ahead of Formula 1.5.

    It is very unlikely that he will manage to hang with Max, but I don’t think that Red Bull expects that.

  8. I suppose it is likely Albon will struggle (and fail?) to stay ahead of McL. Gasly struggled and he had the benefit of time, pre season and testing. Albon had none of that so he will have to try his best not to sink… so to speak. What I hope the most is that when the season is finished and RBR decide to drop Albon he is level headed enough to not be devastated by it Kvyat style… Good chance he is.. seems like it in interviews. Very likeable guy. Wish him the best.

    Sainz will be delighted regardless. Destined for 6th now.

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