Max Verstappen, Alexander Albon, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2020

Red Bull need a driver who will push Verstappen in 2021 – Marko

2021 F1 season

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Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko says the team must have two drivers who can maximise their point scores in the constructors’ championship next year.

Alexander Albon has contributed just 64 of the team’s 211 points so far this year – less than half of Max Verstappen’s total. Albon had his first technical retirement of the season at the last race while his team mate has already had three.

Speaking on Sky Sport Germany, Marko said there was no urgency to change Red Bull’s line-up mid-season this year – as they did in 2019 and 2016 – because they are unlikely to lose their second place in the constructors’ championship.

“At present we have no problems in the constructors championship because with Max and [Albon] we are in a good place,” said Marko. “The fights behind us are between Renault, McLaren and Racing Point who keep taking points off each other. Our second place is not in danger so at present we don’t see any necessity to act.”

However Marko said the team must consider it options carefully for its driver line-up for the 2021 F1 season.

“Our aim for next year is to fight for the championship, so we will need consistency. Of course we realise that Max is not really being pushed, and we need to know where the limit of our car lies.”

Albon joined Red Bull in the middle of last season as a replacement for Pierre Gasly. He made an encouraging start for the team, but Marko said his continued inconsistency remains a concern.

“In fast corners the telemetry shows that Albon is on a par with Max. But then there are one or two corners where he loses time excessively, which brings us back to his consistency.

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“Because you don’t know when or where it will happen, that is a concern which we cannot afford when we chase the championship.”

Tsunoda is on course for a promotion to AlphaTauri
Albon endured a difficult weekend at the Nurburgring: He was forced into early retirement after flat-spotting a tyre on the first lap, then collided with Daniil Kvyat’s AlphaTauri. Nonetheless Marko was satisfied by aspects of his performance.

“In qualifying he was clearly a lot closer to Max as a result of the car being more consistent, not as unstable in the back,” said Marko. “But as a result of locking up he had to make an early pit stop for a tyre change.

“He made his way up the field with some good times, then of course he made an unnecessary manoeuvre, on the sister team, and he should have acted in the interests of the parent company.”

However Marko made it clear Albon could keep his place. “If Albon manages to develop himself further, makes constant improvements, then he is a candidate for our car in 2021.”

Although Red Bull junior driver Juri Vips has recently become eligible to apply for a super licence, following the FIA’s revision of the points system due to the effects of the pandemic, Marko said there was only one junior candidate being considered for a move up to F1 next year.

“Sure we have our young driver programme, but presently we have only [only] one candidate for F1, and that is Yuki Tsunoda, the Japanese driver. He is planned for AlphaTauri if he manages to collect the necessary superlicence points.”

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2020 F1 season

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...
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...

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52 comments on “Red Bull need a driver who will push Verstappen in 2021 – Marko”

  1. So either they keep Albon (which will presumably satisfy the Thai contingent) or look outside the Red Bull programme for a driver – Peter and Hulkenberg being the most obvious candidates. That would be quite the admission of failure from Red Bull, that their young driver programme has failed to deliver the goods.

    1. ” …. failed to deliver….”

      Hmm, not sure that’s fair – Vettel, Verstappen, Sainz come to mind.

      1. Vettel and Verstappen came from the outside of Red Bull programme, so only Ric and Sainz.

        1. @pironitheprovocateur

          Vettel was accepted into the ‘Red Bull Junior Team’ in 1998, at age 11.

      2. Ricciardo too. And that’s only in F1.
        Vergne, Buemi, Hartley among others have found success in different categories. How they manage their young drivers and how they decide to fill the F1 seats, especially these last two years, could be questionable but there is no doubt that their Junior Program is a success.

  2. Gasly was just as inconsistent… Pierre didn’t forget how to drive, and I’m sure Albon is doing all he can.

    Maybe the car is too edgy. And throwing a new guy in might not make the whole situation any better.

    1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      22nd October 2020, 10:48

      I believe it’s set up for Max with more front end than any mortal can handle.

  3. Red flag’s been shown by Helmut to Albon.
    Tricky with the RedBull Thai connection.
    For those who don’t know. Red Bull recipe belongs to a Thai multi millionaire.
    I’d like to see the Hulk in the car.

    1. But Red Bull owns the brand and it’s safe to say that the recipe owner is not going to throw billions down the tubes if Albon is dropped. I think this is the biggest non-story people keep worrying about. I’m also guessing that Dieter has a very long term agreement with the recipe holder.

  4. I think this is an open admission that Alex is going back to SAT.
    Will be interesting to which among the two of Hulkenberg and Perez will drive alongside Max next year.
    Either way, i dont see Red Bull position (2nd) in the WDC being challenged by anyone including McLaren in 2021. Its pretty obvious that they arent challenging Mercedes for the number 1 spot either. Given their comfortable position, they can certainly afford to keep Albon in for another year. I hope he beings to finish in the top 5 consistently henceforth.

    1. Albon does seem very likely to go back to Alpha Tauri, but Tsunoda also seems almost certain to get promotion. That leaves out Gasly, and it is hard to believe they would kick him out, so maybe Gasly back to Red Bull is more likely than Red Bull have been saying it is.

    2. @webtel Agreed. I think if Marko has his way and they will challenge for the Championship(s) next year, they will obviously have to improve the car relatively more than Mercedes will. We know VB can’t sustain a season long WDC fight with LH, and it will come down to LH and MV for the WDC if indeed RBR are title challengers next year. I don’t see a strong performance by whoever Max’s teammate is, as being any help to Max, but a help to the team for the Constructors title. Ie. I don’t think Max needs the push from a teammate as he is looking beyond that at LH, but for sure for the WCC fight, yeah. Likely it will be another year of Merc domination with RBR unable to beat them and nobody else getting near either Merc or RBR. But I see nothing wrong with anything Marko is saying here.

  5. I wonder if Red Bull might want and try to get George Russell from Mercedes.

    If i recall correctly, they tried to get Norris a couple of years ago so the thought is not that impossible. It would be a great long term move for Russell, as both Mercedes and Red Bull academies aren’t doing a good enough job nowadays

    1. An earlier article mentioned the possibility of Russel being out of Williams next year, so I think that would be a nice move from Red Bull. Sure there are 2 experienced drivers on the market, Hulk and Perez, but going for Russel is to me a far better and exciting option.
      I have serious doubts it will happen, but would love to see that scenario…

      1. Yeah me too, i know it’s a difficult scenario but Perez seems more and more likely to be in the Williams for 2021, so a Red Bull seat would be ideal for Russell.

        1. I just don´t se RB gambling with a young (not proveed) driver for the third time

    2. Just won’t happen.

  6. Ha. They may need someone to push Verstappen in 2022 when they have no engine.

    1. Hahahah xd …COTD

    2. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      22nd October 2020, 9:52

      Ba-dum-tish!

  7. Red Bull need a designer who will push Newey and his team to deliver a car that is finished, functional, driveable and competitive after wintertesting. Instead of being competitive after the summerbreak, when the competition has stopped upgrading their cars…

  8. The DNF in Austria 1 was technical as well, or at least this was the claim at the time, while others claimed it would’ve been a direct consequence of the earlier contact with HAM.

    1. Not sure if it counts as a DNF as Albon was classified, having completed more than 90% of the race distance.

  9. Good news everyone! Grosjean is now available. He would push Max right to the edge (of his patience).
    So I’m guessing this is either to “motivate” Alex and his rivals, or just give Max fair warning of a change for next year.

    1. or just give Max fair warning

      Don’t confuse him with a person who cares.

  10. “(Yuki Tsunoda) is planned for AlphaTauri if he manages to collect the necessary superlicence points.”

    This was a revelation to me.
    Somewhat expected, but never confirmed by the people in charge (although it doesn’t say of this is for 2021).

    1. @coldfly Yeah that was my biggest takeaway from the interview that was kind of just dropped in at the end of the article. That pretty much confirms Kvyat is out then I guess, assuming Tsunoda gets his superlicence points. Meaning if they also want to employ a Perez, Hulkenberg or anyone for the second Redbull seat, then they have no place left in F1 for one of Albon or Gasly. Personally I think it seems likely in that case that those two would remain where they are. I don’t see the benefit of switching them around when the outcome will probably not be very different than last time for Gasly, and I don’t think either has been bad enough to warrant dropping them from F1 entirely.

  11. The key to Albon’s future seems to be Tsunoda, with the permutations being:

    Tsunoda gets a superlicence:

    Red Bull: Verstapppen / Albon
    Alpha Tauri: Gasly / Tsunoda

    Tsunoda doesn’t get a superlicence:

    Red Bull: Vestappen / [A.N. Other – probably Perez or Hulkeberg]
    Alpha Tauri: Albon / Gasly

    1. Exactly! In case the second happens, I would put money op Hulkenberg.

    2. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      22nd October 2020, 10:50

      Or if Renault take Gasly

  12. “In fast corners the telemetry shows that Albon is on a par with Max. But then there are one or two corners where he loses time excessively, which brings us back to his consistency.

    “Because you don’t know when or where it will happen”

    This is a bit strange isn’t it? There must be a reason, more than the driver being ‘inconsistent’. Of course fast corners are the easy ones, but why would the slow ones vary so much for Alex? I wonder if they get it happening in the simulator.

    Anyway “If…. he’s a candidate for 2021″ is ominous.

    1. Probably running more downforce than MV to boost his confidence in the faster corners. Won’t help him in the slow stuff ;) Might also be the reason for his lack of over overtaking in the last races as it will also drop his top speed.

    2. From what I understand from hearing a few drivers (including Albon himself) explaining the fast/slow corner conundrum the position is this: drivers lose less time relatively in faster corners (a) because the cars have so much downforce that their performance through them is pretty similar and (b) because you spend less time in a fast corner because it is over quicker. The big gains in laptime come in slow corners because you spend more of your laptime negotiating them relatively speaking, making getting them right much more important when setting a lap time.

      1. @geemac I have been racing for a long time (just touring cars/nothing like these guys) and I can confirm that my biggest struggles were always in slow corners, especially those with heady braking zone and multiple apexes or an increasing radius. Slow corners are much more technical and you can lose so much more time trying to get the power down than you can possibly lose in making a mistake in a fast corner. At Sears Point I’d always be right on the a*s of the car ahead the entire lap and then lose up to .2 seconds in the final corner, which I could never get right. It was immensely frustrating. My brain would turn off after a while and instead of being smart and approaching more slowly I’d get impatient and start braking later, screwing my tires and losing more time. Sort of like Bottas under pressure from Hamilton.

      2. Yes @geemac and there’s a lot more technique in slow corners isn’t there, with how they rotate the car. I suppose this is the difference, that he’s trying for example to do some rear steering with the throttle and how he balances the car on entry, and it’s that much more demanding and sometimes it’s working better than others.

  13. This almost sounds like a public execution.

  14. Treat both drivers equally and you might get someone who can challenge Max. Give Max preference and he will dominate his team mate, it’s not rocket science.

    1. The factory will build a car that can win, if Alex won they would. Catch 22, but no team is going to build a car for an inconsistent number 2. Its not rocket science. They follow the points

  15. “If Albon manages to develop himself further, makes constant improvements, then he is a candidate for our car in 2021.”

    Quite clear, right now he is out.

  16. The only thing that I’d disagree with is that Max needs the other RBR driver to push him. I doubt Max is comparing himself and his performances with anyone other than Hamilton in the Mercedes. That’s what is pushing him.

    Albon though has been really disappointing and is now in that death spiral where he’s pushing to go faster which leads to more mistakes and ultimately he’s losing ground.

    I really hope he comes good, he’s certainly pulled off some entertaining overtakes and is a bit more ruthless than some of his counterparts and may well prove to be one of the more exciting prospects if he can overcome this slump.

    1. Agree that nobody needs to push Max to go fast and keeping trying to go faster.
      That said I really believe that Max/Red Bull would have been faster today if Daniel would still be driving for Red Bull.

      Every driver benefits in the sense of (personal) development from having a strong teammate. Certainly Red Bull would be able to develop the car faster if they have 2 top drivers providing consistent and accurate input and not having to waste lots of time understanding why 1 is not delivering or at least not getting the most out of the car.

  17. He’s been way better than Gasly who has been impressive this season but was rather fortuitous to win, he would be a bit reticent himself to go back to a team that spat him out and the quicker the car the narrower the operating window, if its also tail happy, its a poisoned chalice. As is being Max’s team mate, he’s so good.

    Does also show the mastery of Mercedes, even when they had a diva of a car, it gave both drivers a good chance of winning or at least being rear gunner. Bottas is a classic number 2 but Nico was up for a fight and gave Lewis a few bloody noses.

  18. Helmut Marko should resign. Whoever will replace him – I don’t care. Maybe Ralf Schumacher.

  19. To me he’s basically saying there’s no one else in the young driver program pipeline so they’re forced to go with Albon.

    Very revealing with Albon’s inconsistency revealing itself in random corners, but that’s surely related to the famed adaptability that the top drivers have. Maybe as the tyre, weight, wind, temperature and turbulence alters, he’s not adjusting as fast as he should.

  20. To push someone you have to be very close to that person. I don’t see anyone on the grid able to do that considering Max’s form.

    1. At least no one they could reasonably get, as I think only leclerc and hamilton have proven to be able to challenge verstappen, although honestly given ferrari’s performance red bull would be better off with leclerc!

      1. I mean leclerc would be better off with red bull.

  21. Its almost easy to forget that Red Bull had two very capable drivers in Max and Danny Ric- but after Baku it seemed Ricciardo made up his mind that Max was the chosen one and he wasn’t willing to be the bridesmaid given he had proved he was more than a match for Max. I have never rated Horner’s handling when it comes to 2 alphas in the team- similar thing happened in Instanbul in 2010 and then, of course, Multi 21. If Red Bull bring in a Ricciardo like driver (not that one is available) then that destabilises the team. However with Perez available, I think he would slot in nicely. He won’t trouble Max across a season but will atleast give him something to think about more often than not- which maximises the constructors points for Red Bull as well.

  22. How about Kimi?? Or GRO? Or KMAG? It feels like anybody deserves a chance to prove he can do better given Albon’s deficit.

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