Alexander Albon, Red Bull, Nurburgring, 2020

Albon had a “pretty sensible weekend” and his penalty was “harsh” – Horner

2020 Eifel Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner defended Alexander Albon following his driver’s difficult race at the Nurburgring.

Albon was forced to make an early pit stop after flat-spotting a tyre on the first lap of the race. He suffered a further setback when he was penalised for a collision with Daniil Kvyat, but failed to reach the finish anyway because of a technical problem.

Horner was unimpressed with Albon’s 10-second time penalty. “The penalty felt a bit harsh to me,” he said. “Daniil had been off the track, rejoined, it felt a bit on the harsh side.”

Albon was beginning to make progress after his initial setback when the team retired his car, said Horner.

“We had a big lock-up into turn three on the opening lap and our concern was that he’d gone pretty much through to the canvas and we were seeing vibrations increasing to the point that it was past our threshold. So from a safety point of view we had to pit him at that point.

“He then started to make good progress back through the field. But he was very unlucky in that he’s picked up some debris that pierced a radiator on the cooling circuit and we just saw our temperatures started to go sky-high. Before losing an engine, we had no choice but to stop the car.”

However Horner said he was pleased with other aspects of Albon’s performance over the weekend.

“It was a shame in the race,” he said, “I think he would have been racing Perez and Ricciardo even with that flat spot and the early stop. So it’s a shame for him not to see that come to fruition today because he’s had a pretty sensible weekend.

“He was almost on a second row of the grid, a few hundreds of a second off that, he was a lot closer to his team mate than he was in Russia. So I think it’s a shame that he didn’t get a result out of today because I think there was more to come.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
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72 comments on “Albon had a “pretty sensible weekend” and his penalty was “harsh” – Horner”

  1. The most interesting aspect of this is, that it shows the Thai complement has enough sway to keep Albon firm in his seat. Otherwise Horner would instead harshly critisize his own driver, just like Red Bull have done only too often before then dropping the driver. I guess Albon has that seat secured then?

    1. They either really still have a lot of faith in Albon or this is Red Bull trying their best to treat their underperforming drivers less harsh than they have been doing in the past.

      1. @ruben I agree, it seems to me like Horner is doing his best to show a more empathic side towards RBR’s no2 driver.

        – Qualified half a second off his teammate and 2 positions behind
        – Flat spotted his tyre at the first corner
        – Involved in removing the wing from sister car

        It doesn’t strike me as the weekend dreams are made of. Still, looking at Gasly’s trajectory after leaving RBR it’s pretty clear that RBR are bringing out the worst in these young driver’s so it’s good to see him making some effort, even if it rings a bit hollow.

        1. @marcusbreese

          It doesn’t strike me as the weekend dreams are made of.

          Haha! Indeed, I wonder how many guys in karting will answer the question “What does your dream career look like?” with the things you’ve listed.

          It seems as if the culture at RBR is as ‘knife edge’ as the RB16: it either works or doesn’t work for their athletes. I wonder how it is for their other employees, assuming they want to get the best out of each and everyone in their team every weekend. If that’s the case they, being a professional sports team, got some work to do.

    2. It might be as with Ferrari out of the picture, they get the same place in WCC anyway. By maximizing the income of 2nd driver, they maximize overall income. But I don’t really agree about that logic, one could argue that extra wins would bring them better return than the fund of Albon and there was opportunity in Monza, and in general RedBull could use a second car to put more pressure on Mercedes on strategy.

      This weekend shows that despite Verstappen driving this car very well, Albon is also making some costly mistakes.

    3. I think they realized that allowing the driver to develop over time is better than replacing and having a new driver getting used to the car. However, Albon may have no more consideration by next year if he keeps this up. The worst Ferrari in 20 years is not supposed to outqualify the car that appeared to be a clear cut 2nd best or even possibly better than the Mercedes in qualifying.

  2. This is getting ridiculous now. Mister Horner needs some glasses I suspect.

    1. Indeed. Also Albon was only given a 5s time penalty, so either Horner pays no attention, or is deliberately trying to make it sound worse.
      Penalty was fully deserved. Not saying he wasn’t “sensible”, that’s not really in question. Definitely lacking in spacial awareness and guilty of being a bit too optimistic, hence the locking up on lap one, which is only his fault, causing the bad first stint and early pit stop.
      Lets not forget Albon also touched Ricciardo in turn 3 of lap 1, which could have gone worse on other days, so all things considered, no one can deny that it was a messy day for him.

      1. And his embarrassing remark.
        “they drive me so hard”, almost in tears….

      2. @eurobrun

        Horner didn’t say that the penalty was 10 seconds, it’s Racefans who wrote that.

    2. This is just PR talk. And usually when it is this obvious RB announces a swap soon. Franky, Albon seems like a nice fellow. And maybe he even deserves to be in F1. But not in a million years at RB team 1 which are supposed to have Championship ambitions. Stop the nonsense and get your team together and working properly. We all need it to stop the Mercedes borefest

    3. What should he say? Albon’s driving is an absolute disaster? He’s doing his best to not add additional pressure on a driver whose seat is questioned by the media every week.

  3. Well, good to have that public defense, and a bit of a counter to negativity. But Albon does seem to be a bit too eager to take his racing line w/o regard to who else is still on track. Compare Hamilton saying after T1 he couldn’t see Bottas, so gave space hence Bottas getting past again. Yes teammate (and not sister-team, nor rival for 2021 seat?!), but still, that’s what we nowadays see from Verstappen too, look at his start, where he kept his distance to people around and thus was able to get the 2nd place.

    So, in aggregate the weekend might look worse than it is from Albon, and it’s important for Horner to support him, but I don’t find it quite convincing.

  4. It’s obvious to me, but hey, I’m just a spectator on a distance. But from what I see, it’s an Albon who is just not getting there. How many weekends do you need to get within .5 seconds Qualifying distance? Another 4 – 5? And I mean consistently. Furthermore: Max is a lonely racer, sometimes splitting the Mercs, most of the times following them in close distance. But never ever had the opportunity to split the Mercs and use his teammate as a cover/back up. It’s a sad story for him, though I doubt Max will feel sad. He’s in the center of all of the RB media coverage, which he seems to enjoy a lot.

  5. Gasly got demoted for less.

    Not sure why Albon gets more favourable treatment.
    He was dreadful yesterday.
    Way off in Quali, then mistakes all over the shop in the race – flatspotted 2 sets of tyres and crashed into Kvyat. He was fortunate that the damaged radiator meant that the team retired the car. He basically got let off.

    1. ‘way off in quali’. really??. Bottas,Hamilton,Verstappen, wayOffMan……’way off in quali’ ? 4th is way off? seriously?

      1. 5th actually, behind Leclerc in a red tractor and half a second off Verstappen.

        1. nevertheless, ‘way off’ is a bit of an exageration. I had a screen capture, but clearly CL had not finished his lap, so I bow to the correction of 5th.

          1. @geoffgroom44 when you look at the average difference in time between Albon and Verstappen in qualifying, and then compare that to how closely matched the other drivers are across the field, Albon has the worst relative performance to his team mate on the grid right now – so, relatively speaking, he is indeed “way off” the pace of Verstappen.

            To put things into perspective, a number of individuals this season have been calling Vettel a hopeless and pathetic driver for how Leclerc has been beating him in qualifying by an average of about 0.39s. However, when you compare the relative time difference between Leclerc and Vettel over the 2020 season, Vettel is significantly closer to Leclerc than Albon has been to Verstappen this season.

            Albon’s current average deficit in qualifying is 0.56s, nearly 30% worse than Vettel’s deficit is – and Vettel has at least managed to occasionally out-qualify Leclerc this season, something Albon’s not even been remotely close to achieving. Even Latifi, who is dismissed as an unimpressive pay driver, is managing to be more competitive in qualifying relative to Russell than Albon is currently managing to be relative to Verstappen.

            The relative pace of Red Bull’s car compared to the rest of the field was why Albon qualified in 5th – we saw from Leclerc and Vettel that putting in that sort of performance in a midfield team would see one driver best of the rest and the other not even making the top 10.

      2. 0,5 sec off on a 1min24 lap is way off. If this was a one time thing, you could say it happens. But it’s more like the average gap that there is between them.

    2. Not sure. Rewatch Hungary 2019.

  6. I thought Albon had a complete stinker.

    1. It was wasn’t it @redearedrabbit. Christian is charitably blanking the second lockup that ruined his second set of tyres, and the .5s deficit in qualy. Total nightmare of a race for him.

      I suppose Red Bull have to just stay with it for the rest of the season, try and take the pressure off, and then see how it looks by December. One great race could change it all, but does he ever need one.

  7. Albon needs to be careful not to get let go altogether given the situation in the driver program and the fact he, like Kvyat (and Hartley before), got back only because of the lack of viable options earlier, but for next year, there are potentially two ‘own-driver’ options for AT, so might be that out of the trio of Albon-Gasly-Kvyat only Gasly is still around next season.

    1. I might be totally wrong, but haven’t Red Bull clearly stated they will not take Gasly back into the team?

      1. I think they said they would not swap the driver this year. To be honest, I think RB is really trying to give Albon the time to find his footing (which they didn’t with Gasly) and that’s indeed the right approach. Not sure they would gain much in changing driver in year, demotivating Albon even more and putting Gasly in a difficult spot (in year change is never easy, especially if the car is difficult to driver). But it seems clear to me all is opened for next year… And if Alex is not improving it would be surprising he keeps his seat. I did not believe the Perez theory, but I have to say that it would be make sense for RB to experiment that path and put Albon and Gasly together at AT.

        1. There is Alpha Tauri for learning how to drive in F1. Albon got promoted after 6 months, which was clearly too soon. Putting unproven driver like that in the F1 seat was a gamble. They shoud’ve given Kvyat the opportunity.

        2. Gasley was fighting himself most of the time; doubting himself; & generally NOT happy in the team. THAT is why they had to replace him. Albon is ‘happy’ in the team; & needs to get his act together.

          Cmon; if you have a f1 driver IN TEARS after a race; something is NOT going well between the ears. Especially when ‘nothing special’ happened in the race; just the driver feeling worse & worse everytime he looks at his teammate’s performance.

          Albon keeps his back straight; & thats why he gets chance after chance. That wont last too long; but i get why they keep him in the car at the moment.

          (i dont judge wether albon or gasley should be somewhere else; is quicker; whatnot; i think they should get hulk or peres in that 2nd red bull; but we’ll see what happens for next year.)

          1. Gasly is French and he’s probably a bit more rough about around the edge than the very polite Alex (and native english speaker, well with Thai). But overall I disagree with your remark.
            The main difference is the way Gasly was treated. Cmon, as you said, Horner was already being negative with Gasly in winter testing because he had crashed the car once… Not like if it never happened to Max… What was that ? There was already a lot of negativity in Australia, first GP of the year, after RB gambled in Q1 and did not send his driver back on track. Max made the cut, not Gasly…
            So yeah, a world of difference compared to Albon’s treatment. As for crying… I don’t remember having seen Gasly crying in Australia. But I remember Alex’s “They fight me so hard” ;-)

        3. Let’s face it though, Gasly will not do any better next year than Albon this year if he gets the seat.

          1. Agreed… As I said, RB is this time taking it’s time with Albon, and I believe it’s because they know they are not supporting their young driver properly. Max is a damn good driver, but half a second (and sometimes more) between teammates is not normal. It’s clear that something else is happening. And sure, there is more pressure at RB, but it’s too easy just to hide behind this. So yeah, instead of switching drivers every 10 GP, they should try to solve the root cause, whatever that is. Or… change the approach and try with a more experienced driver (Perez, Hulk…)

      2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        13th October 2020, 9:09

        Toro Rosso made it clear that kvyat “will not return to the team” when he got dumped in 2017.

        Things change huh? :D

  8. So interesting to observe the ‘lets get Alex brigade’ joining the heavy brigade who, without logic, pushed forward.
    Now, perhaps someone could explain to me why Seb Vettel was penalised in races like Canada and Monza for rejoining the track in an unsafe manner, but DK was not penalised.

    1. Vettel in both cases rejoined in the path of an oncoming car (and in Monza right at the apex of a corner making him almost impossible to avoid) while Kyvat was clear in front of Albon, slowed down to let him by on the straight, and was hit when Albon thought he had cleared Kyvat and moved back to the racing line.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        12th October 2020, 13:46

        @geoffgroom44 @mr-pug Excellent question and perfect answer showing how 2 similar incidents can be vastly different in terms of accountability.

        I spoke about Alex’s spatial issues in his fights with Lewis which should have never resulted in collisions and certainly not in penalties for Lewis. As I predicted, the stewards made the mistake of assigning blame to the wrong driver and that would ultimately cost Albon dearly. His mistakes are piling up – he’s very likely to hit your car unless you engage in evasive maneuvers. I think the stewards should help rookies get a clearer sense of racing – I even believe that Max could have benefited from the stewards helping him out at the beginning. It took Max a really long time to figure out how to race in F1. Even Lewis needed a crash course in 2011 as he thought that his driving is all that mattered when, in fact, it was 30% his driving and 70% the other driver that mattered.

      2. Yeah, I am stupid! I thought from what I saw that DK also drove into the pathway of an oncoming car having failed to go around the corner but doing his grassclipping routine which also carried the threat that he could have lost control because of the grass.Interesting that the grassclipper man calls the other driver ‘unprofessional’.

        1. Kyvat came on track ahead of Albon and had slowed already and ultimately, the manner in which he returned to the track was also safe. The difference between what he did and Vettel did; is Vettel planted his foot to the ground and swerved the full width of the track to ensure there was no cars width on the outside to block another driver in a reckless fashion.

          If you can’t see the difference between the two incidents then that says more about you. Also Kyvat gave up the place to Albon, had Vettel done the same then he wouldn’t have been penalised either would he. It was simply Albon’s poor driving that caused the impact and nothing that Kyvat did and ultimately it destroyed his chance of points so the penalty was more than fair.

          1. I am sure you are absolutely correct and that when driving down the highway a car doing unpredictable things in front of you, you always make the absolutely perfect decision

        2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          12th October 2020, 15:34

          @geoffgroom44 Dani had to rejoin the track – there is no way to avoid rejoining the track and he did not defend at all against Albon’s overtake keeping his spot which is why he wasn’t penalized. The problem is one that Albon has been running into? He wants the other car to disappear completely and that’s not a possibility in racing.

          In Brazil, he turned as if Lewis didn’t exist and you can forgive him for making an error like that even though it cost him a podium.

          In Austria, he was shoving drivers off the track and then expected Lewis to give him 50% of the track on a corner. Why should Lewis yield the full track to Albon? Bottas won’t do that…

          In Germany, he passed Kvyat due to a mistake by Kvyat but then Alex veered to the outside as if Kvyat needed not to only let him by but to also brake in case Albon goes to the outside.

          Obviously he’s not thinking straight behind the wheel as he’s in Williams territory more often than not while driving a Red Bull.

          1. Amazing insights you have. I suppose you can also tell me the actual behaviour of Albon’s car at the speed he was going and predict that he, or even Max, could have parked it on a euro.
            But I have a very simple question please: if DK had not gone off track and over the grass, cutting the corner, do you think this incident would still habe happened?

    2. because it wasn’t his fault that Albon clipped his wing? Albon clearly drove onto him (doesn’t matter that he only touched the front wing)

      1. yep. Psychic Alex would have absolutely know where the grassclipper man was going to be !

  9. I like the guy but that was overall a poor drive, though the guy is still learning. I do think the penalty was harsh, in fact watching the feed I didn’t think they’d even touched so it must have been a pretty slight impact. His qualifying is improving and I don’t think there’s much wrong with his overtaking – but he really needs to work on his starts as they’re pretty poor, either from the grid or restarts. I do think the guy gets far more criticism than he deserves, and arguably that’s simply because he’s in a Red Bull alongside Verstappen.

    Also confused at the amount of people calling for Red Bull to firstly drop him, and secondly re-promote Gasly. Does nobody remember the calls to drop Gasly, and then the consideration RB had been too harsh? Let’s not repeat history too fast.

    1. Exactly this:

      Also confused at the amount of people calling for Red Bull to firstly drop him, and secondly re-promote Gasly. Does nobody remember the calls to drop Gasly, and then the consideration RB had been too harsh? Let’s not repeat history too fast.

      And adding to that I find it strange that many automatically assume that Gasly is willing to jump back in the Red Bull in the middle of an already hectic season.

    2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      12th October 2020, 13:50

      Gasly should be trying to stay at Alpha Tauri or leave Red Bull altogether. If he couldn’t get a single decent performance last season out of the Red Bull, what makes him believe that he will get one this season? In fact, if he continues to disappoint and gets lapped by Max again, this could be the end of his career.

      They should be offering the car and he should be running away screaming “over my dead body”. The likelihood that he will beat Verstappen is very, very low. I’m not sure it’s even a matter of skill – it’s more a matter of car dynamics and confidence. He should not that Ricciardo ultimately decided to leave Red Bull and if he chose to do so, there’s good reason for that.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        12th October 2020, 13:53

        He should note that Ricciardo…

  10. From the live feed it looked like they gave up. We didn’t hear any radio message neither from the team or from drivers side. Maybe it was the radiator, maybe something else..

  11. It’s funny how some think this isn’t pure business and that Red Bull are generously giving a poor lad a chance to delevop. Well, the Red Bull seat shouldn’t be there for learning, it should be a legitimate contender for podiums and victories, if it only wasn’t quite a poor car this season, but that’s a dfferent story. Albon can be as nice as he wants, but he’s got a protection for a number of reasons, a Thai background and marketing appeal being one of them. Honestly, if he doesn’t get at least two top 5 finishes in the next three races, his seat should be up for grabs and Red Bull would do the most sensible thing to get Perez or Hülkenberg on board. This team’s struggling with getting a reasonable input from an seasoned driver, and both Perez and Ricciardo are proving they’ve got what it takes to provide a stable and a solid back-up.

    1. Excuse a Freudian slip, Perez and Hülkenberg in the last sentence, of course.

  12. Red Bull really just need an established decent driver in the second car to support Max, while they develop a couple of their newer drivers at AT, instead of just chucking them in at the deep end with little/no experience.

    Perez/Hulk would be great for this, just give them a 2 year contract for 2021/22, and hopefully by that point there’s a clear successor who emerges from AT to replace that second driver (Who by that point will be ready to retire anyway).

    1. + 1. This is what I would recommend they do as well.

  13. I think it’s admirable that Horner sticks by his driver, but it does seem odd that Gasly wasn’t afforded the same level of positive assessment in interviews.

    1. supporting their drivers (aside from MAX) is a new thing they’re trying at RB

  14. This is the result of them “building the team entirely around Verstappen”. Which self respecting top driver is going to want to step in as a No2 driver? Or at the very least expect the ridiculously uphill battle that Leclerc had to go through to unseat Vettel at Ferrari.

    They miss Ricciardo dearly. You see how Renault is finally finding their way forwards. While it takes Red Bull a whole season to inch a bit forwards and then drop back again the next season .

    1. All topteams are build around number one driver.
      Mercedes with Hamilton (valtteri, this is james..)
      Ferrari around Vettel initially and now Leclerc.
      (the politics of a snake pit).
      But even Renault around dannyric.

      1. Lol, so because Mercedes asked Bottas once to let Hamilton past the whole team is built around Hamilton?
        Dud you are so sad an delusional

        The strength of Mercedes is that they have two great drivers. One who is an exceptional talent, who motivates the team and helps the team forward. Plus one driver who is closely matched, but is treated eztremely fairly in his attempts to get ahead. In doing so pushing both Hamilton and Bottas to perform at their peak.

        While Red Bull have one noob who doesn’t know how to improve a team. Who actually demotivates his team with his uncalled for rants and pushes out their engine manufacturer. And then one other noob who can barely get control of the poorly developed car for their lead noob. It’s just sad.

  15. When you look at weekends performance and you think Grosjean could of done a better job in that car……you might want to start to ask questions….

    1. Harsh but vey true.

  16. That was harsh? I’d like his thoughts on Lewis’ 2 weeks ago.

    That was as much of a slam dunk as it’s possible to be, he just forgot about the other car as soon as it’s front wheels went behind his own cockpit.

    A genuinely rookie mistake that even kart drivers shouldn’t make.

    1. I think it strange to observe that he forgot about another car that had just gone grassclipping and didn’t even take the corner. I can accept that his inexperience may have contributed to his feeling the DK’s car was not yet under control after the trip into the garden. Interesting that Seb got penalised for unsafe return to the track a number of times, but this manouvre by DK was considered safe.

      1. he wasn’t trying to gain an advantage

      2. @geoffgroom44 He didn’t push Albon off track and he let Albon past. What more could he do? Well, he could disappear in a cloud of smoke perhaps.

      3. He went over the chicane and couldn’t possibly have rejoined another way, then he let Albon through. He literally could do no more to stay within the rules and be fair to Albon. Albon completely misjudged the overtake and rejoined the racing line before he was past – it’s not often one car is 100% to blame in an incident involving more than one car, but Albon was 100% to blame.

  17. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    12th October 2020, 14:03

    With Hulk available and showing how he can just jump into any car and score points, I’m sure that Horner must be thinking to himself “what could this guy do in a really quick car like the Red Bull?” I won’t have to babysit the kid for a full season which is causing us to lose focus in the battle against the other teams. Obviously, Red Bull have failed to replace Ricciardo in 2 years and Abiteboul’s wry jest on Netflix has really come back to bite Red Bull in the posterior as they are suddenly without a driver and an engine again. I like but maybe he should follow Gasly to Alpha Tauri and he Canhave a proper fight with him there.

  18. People keep forgetting that 51% of Red Bull is owned by the family of co-founder Chaleo Yoovidhya. There is absolutely no way that this is not playing a part in how Alex is being treated compared to previous drivers.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      12th October 2020, 15:40

      @latorres86 but that’s the beauty of it – they don’t need to part ways with Albon. He can still drive for Alpha Tauri next to Gasly – I think they’ll push each other and it’ll be exciting for Alpha Tauri.

  19. I think Alex is done after this year but Red Bull learned their lesson from last year and are now simply trying to get to the end of the year without destroying his future. If Albon is still in the car next year then Horner should be sacked. I don’t criticize expecting Albon to be sacked this year but I do really want to see an actual competitive driver in the 4th fastest seat in F1 so we have more fights at the front.

    Ricciardo and Sainz to varying degrees proved that Verstappen is not on a different level and it’s time he had a better benchmark in the second seat to help push him and the team further.

    1. Ricciardo got his @ss handed to him during Q’s and races. He was on avg 0,345 secs slower in Q’s and often finished 25 secs to 45 secs behind Verstappen during the race. When Verstappen DNF’d he always was in front of Ricci mostly p2/p3 while Ricci was p6/p8…when Ricci DNF’d it was exactly the same.

      Sainz got beaten by a 1 year exp 17 year old (49 points to 12 points)

      Since then Verstappen only got better and faster

  20. I wonder if they benched him and retired the car because he was driving so poorly. There wasn’t a single word about a car issue.

  21. He’s very poor. He must have some dirt on Horner to be retaining that seat for so long.

  22. Horner will instruct Gasly and Kvyat to let Albon pass without a fight otherwise he might cry again.

  23. I suspect Horner is playing the man-management game of saying pleasant things to the press and keeping his charge in a good frame of mind. All while arranging his replacement for next year.

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