Alexander Albon, Red Bull, Istanbul Park, 2020

Red Bull could decide on Albon’s future after last race of season

2020 Turkish Grand Prix

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Red Bull may postpone its decision on who will be Max Verstappen’s team mate next year until after the season finale at Yas Marina in December.

The team is weighing up whether to replace Alexander Albon in its line-up for the 2021 F1 season. Sergio Perez, who will be dropped by Racing Point at the end of the year, and Nico Hulkenberg are among the alternatives believed to be under consideration.

Team principal Christian Horner had previously indicated they would consider their options following last two back-to-back races at Algarve and Imola. However Horner said today that as no front-running places are likely to become available for next year, the team can afford to give Albon longer to show he deserves to stay.

“As I’ve said all along, we want to see Alex lay claim to that seat,” Horner explained. “And I think the difference is that the alternatives that we have, all the seats are full in Formula 1.

Drivers, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
2021 F1 drivers and teams
“So that buys us a little bit of time to make the most informed decision that we can and of course give Alex as much time as we possibly can, as much support as we can and see what happens over the remaining the remaining three or four races.”

Red Bull do not need to finalise their plans before the last race in Abu Dhabi on December 13th, said Horner.

“We’re not putting any particular timescale on it. Alex’s contract allows us to make that decision after the season. Obviously we’re well aware of what the other options are.

“As I say, all the other seats are committed now and Formula 1 apart from Mercedes – and I doubt that Lewis [Hamilton] will be joining us next season, but you never know.”

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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
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 “Red Bull could decide on Albon’s future after last race of season”

  1. Such a shame for them that Kimi already signed with Sauber.
    Has to be Perez or Hulk as a 2nd best options. Can’t see Albon bouncing back and he absolutely need to go.

    1. Let me spell that for you: Good thing Kimi signed for another season!

      Albon really is a mystery. In Alpha Tauri he was quite great.

      And so is Gasly. But Verstappen destroyed both quite handily.

      Maybe he is doing an Alonso, demands a car with hamdling so terrible yet so fast, that only he can cope.

      Meanwhile Albon removes front downforce and is plain slow, or does not and just spins, whatever the reason, it makes Verstappen look good, albeit quite alone on front just behind Mercedes.

    2. @huhhii Why would Kimi represent a better option than Perez or Hulkenberg? He’s no quicker than them, and there is no future in the move. And given how he stacked up against Vettel (and I rate Verstappen higher), I’m not sure that he’ll be able to get the consistent top 4 finishes Red Bull are looking for.

      1. @mashiat Obviously Kimi is way, way, way ahead of both Hulk and Perez. Come to think of it, he would probably out-pace Max as well but that doesn’t fit into RB’s agenda. That must be the reason why they considered Kimi.

        1. @huhhii I really hope this is sarcastic. I know you are a Kimi fan, but you are lying to yourself at this point. Raikkonen couldn’t even get close to, let alone match, Vettel for 4 seasons at Ferrari. There were occasional flashes of speed, but that would be true of most drivers. Then he was destroyed by Alonso the year before that. Before that his teammate was Grosjean, and their qualifying head to head was 20-18 in that time, and this is the same Grosjean who struggles to match Magnussen now. If Raikkonen is winning only 7-6 in qualifying head-to-head against Giovinazzi, there is no reason to believe he would even get within 0.5% of Verstappen. Raikkonen peaked a decade and a half ago, and no team with title-winning ambitions should go anywhere near him.

          1. @mashiat I’d be a terrible fan if I didn’t believe in him.

            Kimi is still easily the greatest driver of the grid. For example at Imola Kimi was very close to finish on the podium. He did a sensational first stint and pitted 2 laps before SC. With a better luck 3rd finish was Kimi’s there. And it’s not even the first the time as Kimi should’ve finished 3rd at Germany and Brazil last year. Don’t you think there’s a reason why Sauber desperately wanted Kimi to continue?

            We can all play number games. Did you know Kubica out-scored Russell 1-0 last year? So Kubica is infinitely better than Russell. We all know it’s not that simple, hence why Kimi is far superior compared to Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel.

          2. @huhhii By what metric did Raikkonen beat Alonso or Vettel then? Qualifying? Destroyed. Races? Destroyed. Points? Destroyed. Podiums? Destroyed. Wins? Destroyed. There is no way to manipulate the fact that Raikkonen was inferior to both in the recent past. There is no point bringing up 15 years ago into an argument for a seat in 2021.

            Using Imola as an example is not really relevant either. It would have been an incredibly lucky podium (not that he would have finished on the podium I don’t think). I could use Imola as a way of saying Kvyat is among the best on the grid. But that’s just not true. And dealing with colossal what-ifs on one-off races doesn’t cover for the fact that Raikkonen just isn’t quick enough to be running at the front. Backing your driver is not the same as believing they are the best in everything. To use football as an example, you can support West Ham and back them all the way, doesn’t mean you have to believe they will win the Champions League.

            And for the last point about Alfa Romeo, they even renewed Giovinazzi’s contract, so their faith in Kimi doesn’t say as much as you think it does.

          3. @mashiat It’s quite obvious Ferrari has never been able to serve 2 drivers equally. All of history proves that. Except when it comes to number of WDC’s as Kimi easily triumphs both of those mediocre Ferrari drivers.

            I personally know some West Ham fans and I’ve been at Upton Park. They are definitely on the crazy side. But it doesn’t matter. Kimi is like Bayern Munich in football terms, the best of the best. Magnussen or Grosjean are like West Ham. Pretty good but not quite there yet.

            Giovinazzi can keep up with the fastest man on the grid so why on Earth would they fire him? Exactly, there’d be no point in that.

          4. @mashiat, @huhhii is just having fun. Cant you tell?

          5. @lums Precisely! We Kimi fans have always fun. Beer, vodka and other beverages just like Kimi has. It’s a shame not everyone can see that through.

          6. @huhhii the timing data suggests that it’s rather unlikely Kimi could have held onto 3rd place even if he did pit under the safety car.

            When Kimi pitted, Perez was 0.8s behind Kimi and Ricciardo, the next closest driver, was about 8.5 seconds behind Kimi – there was a long tail of cars behind Ricciardo, with Norris, back in 11th place at the time, about 15 seconds behind Kimi.

            When you look at the timing data over the next few laps, the gap that Perez had over Ricciardo was 8.4 seconds, almost exactly the same lead that Kimi had over Ricciardo when he pitted. However, as we saw with Perez, that was nowhere near enough of a lead to hold onto 3rd place when pitting – indeed, despite having the same lead as Kimi did over the drivers behind him, Perez lost out to Ricciardo, Leclerc and Albon.

            Even if you were generous and said that a pit stop under the safety car would only have cost Kimi about half the normal time, or about 15 seconds, compared to the rest of the pack, he’s still coming out behind Ricciardo, Leclerc and Albon, and the odds are that he could come out behind Perez too – which means Kimi has a significant track position disadvantage, as he’s going to be coming back out in 6th or 7th place.

            That would mean that the only chance for Kimi to take that position would have been if he could have jumped those drivers at the restart, but he would have also had four other drivers – Perez, Kvyat, Norris and Sainz – all around him, with Perez potentially ahead of him – on the soft tyres as well, with all of those drivers also being quicker through the speed traps as well.

            At best, even if you are very optimistic and say that Kimi passes a couple of cars on the restart, that still puts him 4th at best. Realistically, I think it’s rather more likely that he’s looking at 6th or 7th at best – a podium is not attainable.

  2. Translation: we are waiting for one good race for Albon so we can justify keeping him.

    1. Exactly!
      I think that’s what will happen, any mediocre points result will trigger the announcement of Albon staying for 2021

      I like Albon, I think he is OK and I like his personality way better than Norris. But F1 should be about who is the fastest and not a popularity contest – clearly RP doesn’t get it and that’s why they got Vettel –

      Why can’t RB just get Perez and move Albon to AT ? I think that would be the natural move and a happy medium for everyone…. except Honda – Tsouda (or whatever his name is)

      I like Albon and Hulk, I just don’t think they belong to RB seat. They should be on the grid, just somewhere else (AT, Williams, AR)

  3. So Albon seems to have a lot of “Thai leverage”. He refused to go to AT and only sees RBR as his seat.
    The Thai part of Red Bull will not easily drop Alex.. so if there is some improvement ( and things look good FP2 in the beginning) he will stay.
    Only if he is lapped again he will burn his bridges..

    1. The constant defense of Albon is really a big surprise. He had more than 20 races to orove what he is worth. What do they think will change in the last few races? Is there something else that makes the decision so hard? It is mysterious.

  4. Red Bull burnt through Gasly and in many ways Kvyat too fast – expected immediate results from a driver with minimal experience of both racing and dealing with pressure. Their resistance to throw Albon out suggests to me they’ve learnt from their prior mistakes. Given Albon’s still extremely inexperienced, I’m glad they are giving him as much time as they can and trying to support their driver. Personally I’d prefer he stayed – the guy’s got potential, he just needs help on unlocking it consistently.

  5. does feel like the thai red bull contingent are putting pressure on horner/marko to keep albon, so i wouldn’t be surprised if he gets one 4th place or something, followed by an announcement they’re retaining him for 2021.

  6. Just put him out of his misery. Albon is not suddenly going to get faster.

    1. @aapje Indeed. As much as I’d want him to stay where he is and do well: What’s the point in keeping him if the next season would be the same story as the current? Would only increase the misery.

  7. Keeping Albon means reducing the chances for Max to put the fight to Mercedes.
    Will Max be happy if RBR keep Albon?

    1. Interesting hypothesis.I’m afraid I am unable to see any connection.I don’t see that Max requires the help of any teammate in respect of taking his motivated fight on the track to anybody,including Mercedes.

  8. I think they already have a replacement for Albon and all this is just to keep the pressure and motivation on him for the las races.

  9. Well, quali today looked a bit better for AA (Istanbul,14/11/20) especially considering the conditions. Of course, he didn’t match Max…but did put up a good show against a loty of other (more) experienced drivers in appalling conditions where power surge and rear instability was a big issue.
    I wonder if it’s possible that the car is now better balanced for his style of driving. Looking forward to the race where there are overtaking possibilities for ‘Mr. Outside’.

  10. If Red Bull didn’t demote drivers (like Kvyat 2016, Gasly 2019), who knows who would win Spain 2016 and where Verstappen would be in 2016-2018…

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