Alexander Albon, Red Bull, Istanbul Park, 2020

Albon confident after “strong weekend” in “more predictable” car

2020 Turkish Grand Prix

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Alexander Albon says he is feeling more confident at the wheel of his Red Bull following the latest changes the team made at the Turkish Grand Prix weekend.

His place at the team is under doubt for the 2021 F1 season as he lags 100 points behind team mate Max Verstappen in the drivers championship. Red Bull have indicated they are considering whether to replace Albon with a more experienced driver, such as the out-of-contract Sergio Perez or Nico Hulkenberg, next year.

Team principal Christian Horner said during the Portuguese Grand Prix weekend Albon needed to raise his game in that round and at Imola to make his case to remain at the team in 2021. He scored no points in those races.

However in recent days Albon’s chances of retaining his seat seem to have improved. Last weekend Horner said the team may not decide on their 2021 drivers before the end of the season, giving Albon more time to prove himself. The team has also scheduled a post-season social media fan event on December 17th including Albon.

Red Bull described Albon’s Turkish Grand Prix performance as “one of [his] strongest weekends in Formula 1”. He equalled the best qualifying position of his career with fourth and took the chequered flag seventh behind Verstappen, though both drivers spun during the race.

Drivers, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
2021 F1 drivers and teams
The event was run in very difficult conditions, on a slippery surface made even more treacherous by rain. However Albon felt he had a “strong weekend” and said he was encouraged by the improvements in his car’s balance.

“It was a good weekend for me,” he said. “We tried some things on my car which we think made it more predictable.

“As a team we were also very strong and considering how well we started the weekend it is a little frustrating to come away with so little. But there are a lot of positives to take from Turkey.”

“I’m confident we’re headed in the right direction,” he added. “On my side things have been getting better and I was happy with the car on the simulator so now I’m looking forward to arriving in Bahrain and seeing what we’ve got.”

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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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57 comments on “Albon confident after “strong weekend” in “more predictable” car”

  1. 1.9s in Q1, 1.9s in Q2 and 2.3s in Q3. Finished the race behind Ver when he has a chaotic race…
    But yes à strong week-end.

  2. Much as I think he’s a nice guy, that wasn’t a strong weekend.

    1. So a strong weekend means he is still behind his team mate who had his worst performance this season. Just get him the hell out of that seat. There must be better drivers.

      1. It seems like the logical thing to do but then again, they have done this twice already (remove a driver after a short amount of time) and it doesn’t seem to work for them. Now, it could be that the driver to replace Albon is a super-talent that can be immediately competitive but isn’t it more likely that they will get another driver that underperforms due to whatever has held the other number twos back?

        One could argue that they have chosen bad drivers three times in a row but their performance in their other team seemed to have more potential, they are clearly not lapped-by-teammate bad. Maybe the best thing to do is give Albon more assurances about his seat and get off his back but I don’t know, it might be too late now for him psychologically speaking.

        Who knows, it’s interesting either way for next year!

        1. Held back 3 riders? Only Gasly and Albon were not up to pace. Nothing wrong with Ricciardo’s pace.

          1. Oh right, the third one was Kvyat in my mind but I guess he did have a longer run at RB and had more time to prove himself.

      2. @mosquito

        Italy was certainly a worse weekend for Verstappen. He started in 5th then fell down to 7th and couldn’t pass Bottas who was struggling and kept making mistakes at that stage. Then at the restart, he was 13th. He attempted to overtake Perez which pushed Perez off the track then lost him 4 places. He gained 3 positions, but one of them as i mentioned was done in an unreasonable manner. The race then restarted again and he fell back 3 positions. He did retire a few laps later, but I would say this race was worse than the previous one.

        1. His engine was playing up almost all race and he lost most of the power just before he retired in Monza.

    2. He definitely improved and was not lapped by his teammate.

      1. erikje, just one race earlier in Imola, he threw away his position with a self-inflicted spin and, having got himself stuck in the midfield, he was 52 seconds off Max’s position and would have been close to being lapped by Max before his tyre failure.

        You also seem to forget that, two races earlier in the Portuguese GP, Verstappen lapped Albon as he pulled an 82 second lead over him by the end of that race – and, unlike Bottas in Turkey, Albon’s car was not damaged.

        Going back one race further to the Eifel GP, Albon was 57 seconds behind Verstappen when he was retired from that race and was again on course to be lapped well before the end of that race.

        During the Russian GP before that, Albon finished that race 85 seconds behind Verstappen, meaning that Verstappen was again close to lapping Albon given Albon was only just on the lead lap.

        In the four races leading up to Turkey, Albon has been lapped once by Verstappen, was nearly lapped again in another race and, in two other races, was close to a minute behind Verstappen when one or the other retired from the race.

        In fact, this whole season Albon has been consistently the worst performing driver relative to his team mate, and by a considerable margin – even those criticised as out and out pay drivers, like Latifi, are not underperforming to the extreme that Albon is.

        To say that Albon has “definitely improved” and to criticise Bottas so heavily looks like extreme cherry picking of results. The performance that Bottas put in during the Turkish GP was more like that of Albon’s normal performance relative to Verstappen – if you think Bottas is bad, then Albon’s performance is such that you should be the first in line to call for Albon to be fired and replaced, since he is clearly and consistently far worse than Bottas is.

        1. In Portugal (and other races) they did mess up Albon with tyre testing duties for Verstappen’s strategy calls. They give Albon questionable tyres to see if they work before they decide to put them on for Verstappen (or usually not). There have been quite a few races where they have used Albon like that.

          That extra stop already costs a lot of time, but the poor performance when the tyres do indeed not work cost him even more.

          1. @f1osaurus Not surprising to hear it once again worded that way from you, and hey that may be what’s actually happening the odd time, although they can get that info from how others are doing on whichever compound as well, but suffice it to say they would not be counting those time’s as strikes against AA. And if indeed they intentionally experimented with him on alleged ‘questionable’ tires it’s not like there are a lot of options anyway, and they’re usually only using two compounds a race as per the regs anyway. Rarely do all three compounds get used equally as much by all drivers and that there are lots of ‘unknowns’ tire wise. I think Max and his side can pretty much figure things out most of the time on their own without needing info from AA whose usually stuck in midfield traffic.

            But hey you’ve decided it’s allegedly quite a few races they sacrificed AA for MV, so as I say they can hardly then turn around and count those at strikes against him.

          2. @robbie Not surprising that you are proving that you are clueless and an ostrich as bad as it comes. Just bugger off.

          3. @f1osaurus Lol your usual mature response when your biased rhetoric is challenged.

          4. @f1osaurus even if we go with the argument that they were testing tyre strategies for Verstappen with Albon – which is another debate – it would still be an indictment of his pace if that is the only useful thing that the team could use him for in that race.

            The point still stands that erijke’s claim that Albon “has shown definite improvement” and “wasn’t lapped by his team mate” does not really tie up with what we have seen in recent races, or for most of this season.

            Whilst erijke criticises Bottas, by every single metric this season Albon has been far worse – Albon has not managed to out-qualify Verstappen at any point, and the average gap percentage gap between himself and Verstappen hasn’t shrunk, Albon has been lapped by Verstappen at least twice this season – not only in Portugal, but also in the Spanish GP – and routinely managed to finish far enough back that he was under threat of being lapped by Max.

            The Turkish GP was the first time that Albon has actually lead Verstappen in a race this season – he’s not been remotely capable of doing that otherwise. By any rational assessment, Albon’s pace really hasn’t improved and he’s been criticised for his race craft due to driver errors and collisions in recent races – that doesn’t speak of “definite improvement”, and if anything some of his more recent performances are actually worse than they were earlier in the season.

          5. @robbie It’s 100% clear they use Albon for tyre testing. If you don’t understand this than that is on you. You just lack the mental capacity to understand.

            So yes, just bugger off. No one is waiting for you special brand of dumb

          6. anon, Sure Albon is a mediocre driver. He gets some slack for his daring attacks which in reality cost him more than they give him benefit.

            Still it’s nonsense to look for when Albon was lapped because those were races where Albon was lapped he was used for tyre testing.

            The main reason Albon was closer in Turkey was because Verstappen had one of his shocker races again.

            Red Bull had the fastest car by a huge margin. They should have scored a 1-2. Both drivers at some point during the race looked to actually get the win, but each of them utterly messed up.

            So what does the end result still mean?

            Besides, Verstappen had a front wing setup fault. Verstappen had newer spec aero. It’s all rather incomparable anyway, but especially last race even less comparable than usual.

          7. @f1osaurus It is 100% clear that you have as usual just thrown out an opinion without specifics. Perhaps since I haven’t the mental capacity you could detail for us the specific stints where AA had to take ‘questionable’ tires as an experiment to help Max.

            It is 100% clear to me that you will not provide said specifics and rather will just tell me to google it.

            But let’s have it. List the numerous definitive times AA was put on ‘experimental’ tires such that info from his car then helped them decide on tires for Max.

          8. @robbie There is no point in giving specifics since you don’t understand them anyway.

            JUST BUGGER OFF!

          9. @f1osaurus Exactly as I predicted. You have nothing to support your claim and so you end up deflecting and insulting. As usual. Btw, that I’m aware this is not your site from which to be ordering people off, but that just goes to your arrogance at thinking you should be able to just say whatever you want and go unchallenged. Exactly why I call you Trumposaurus.

          10. @robbie I have plenty to support, but you have your head so far in the sand that you wont accept anything anyway.

            Try to understand what it means that Albon complains about a pit stop that came way too early and/or they put him tyres that he didn’t want and that didn’t work and then Verstappen changes a few laps later to different tyres.

            Or just pay attention for a change and you would have noticed this scenario happened half a dozen times already.

        2. anon While you may be right with your running down of only the negatives of AA wrt gaps to Max, I’m not so sure this relatively inexperienced driver needs be so demolished verbally compared to VB. Here we have a driver who has consistently had the WCC car, and sure whilst he has consistently been closer to LH all along, he might as well be as far away as AA is to Max for all the effect it has on LH competitively when it comes to wins and Championships. VB is far more experienced than AA with his 1 1/2 seasons at RBR, has the WCC car by a mile, and yet squanders it and gives LH no pressure whatsoever. I’m not sure who is the bigger offender here. I know who we should expect more from given the car he has, and that’s VB, the one with the actual WDC capable car. But hey I guess since Mercedes is absolutely happy with the lack of friction from a ‘competitive’ VB it’s all good that he squanders what he has, but yet AA needs to be sent packing. For now, while a stronger AA would of course help, it is not like RBR would have taken the Championship with more help from AA. It’s not like he has cost them a place in the Constructors, and it’s not likely that he would have helped Max beat VB in the driver standings, but if he did that’s little comfort, and that would mean an even bigger strike against VB.

          Suffice it to say it will be up to RBR as to what to do about their driver situation for next year, as they are the only ones who have all the pertinent info as to when AA truly should have done better, and when RBR has to admit he was a bit handcuffed by the car. Interestingly, neither VB nor AA were their respective teams’ first choices but for decisions other drivers made. VB was the best Mercedes could do (poached from Williams) at the time NR retired, NR who had already agreed a contract that would have put him with the team through 2018. And he’s proven to be no headache for the team, to us fans’ loss, and RBR was trying to retain DR such that he would be there rather than PG or AA.

          Bottom line for me I won’t be surprised to see AA replaced, but it’s not just about gaps to their teammates at select races, and I’m far more surprised/disappointed in the lack of challenge from VB against LH. Consistently. Since 2017. In the WCC car.

  3. Probably not a popular point of view, but I think that the decision has been taken already, the “we’ll wait until the end of the season” line is just window dressing.

    I am not anti Albon and I don’t like to see drivers losing a seat when they probably need a bit longer – I hope of course to be proved wrong and if Red Bull do sign him for next year, feel free to remind me of what I said.

    1. Hülkenberg seemed more up to speed in Force India (oops lol still not used to RP) after zero minutes in a car and after pausing for almost a year than he seems after almost two seasons in Red Bull. He wasn’t better than Kvyat in the B team as well, and he wasn’t the best (or at least one of two-three best) in F2 either. I wanted to see him do well too, but I don’t think that a top team is the place to learn; not when better drivers can’t find jobs. Not his mistake though, mr. Helmut is allowed to burn drivers like cigarettes, yet nobody questions his performance.

      1. I would say Albon is doing better then Gasly was at that red bull team, and now he is one of the top performers this year in the b team

    2. @ahxshades I can remind you already now

  4. If this was already a good weekend, what if he finally qualifies ahead of Verstappen OR finishes ahead of Verstappen on merit.

    Both haven’t happened yet in almost 1.5 season.

  5. Albon being part (either physically or through a video connection) in the post-season social media fan event doesn’t necessarily mean it’d be about announcing his continuation in the team. It could equally be about the opposite, depending on how the remaining three events go for him. Being more comfortable in the car doesn’t mean anything if he can’t translate this into results on the track, which he needs to maintain his place in the team beyond the end of this season.

    1. @jerejj For sure beyond saying to the public what AA already knew anyway, such as he only has a small number of races to show something, they aren’t going to demotivate him by showing their hand by not inviting him to an event, and thus revealing the writing on the wall.

      As to being more comfortable in the car, for sure you’re right that he still has to translate that to results, but it is an indicator, and much moreso for the team who have all the info, that he is working well with the team and they’re tackling the issues together, which can bode well for his future even if he doesn’t grab huge points. It’s hard for us to know the times when Horner would feel there’s nothing more they could do and yet he squandered it, or there was more to do and therefore they have to sympathize with AA. Eg. from what Tost said of Gasly’s stint at RBR, he wasn’t trusting his engineers. Perhaps they see more potential in AA in that regard, and will end up feeling he will do far better if the season starts out with having a balanced car and a stable back end. Perhaps they know AA (and to a lesser but similar extend Max) has been chasing the car all season.

  6. How could resurfaces Istanbul Park be a reference for anything..

    1. Indeed. A good balance at Istanbul with lap times being 5 to 10 seconds off-pace on dry and whatever they were on wet cannot be a good point of comparison. Let’s wait until Bahrain.

  7. Its makes you wonder what kind of car Albon’s had to drive so far this season.

    Maybe the car was set up so only Verstappen could drive it. eg some drivers like a twitchy front end.
    The truth is not drivers like the same set up, and Redbull might have set up the car before now to suit
    the needs or their other drivers, and not force their drivers to adapt to a poorly set up car.

    Lets see if Albon makes good on his potential, or is failed by his team.

    1. Pretty sure we know that the car has a bit of an unstable back end, but moreso at the start of the season, and it seems they have made strides in getting it more stable in more recent races. So if you think this car has been made for or set up for Max, then ask yourself why they have been working on balance and stability all season? Albon will not be failed by the team. AA and the team are working hand in hand to improve. The team will know when the times are that AA squandered the car and when the times are that they didn’t give him the tools with which to work. That’s what we don’t see as they analyze whether or not to retain him.

  8. I think Alex is a good boy and I also think he is a good driver, the problem is that he is in the wrong team.

    Albon requires a different team with a different Technical Director, the pressures that RedBull riders are put under are not like any other team on the grid, I am not saying that it is better or worse than other teams, I am just saying that it is different, The level of pressure that Marko exerts on his drivers only works on certain types of drivers, and on Albon it is not working.

    As a leader you have to exercise your guidelines, but you cannot treat all your players the same, each player requires a different coaching, as a leader you have to know it, … Marko does not know it, and you will not always have a Vettel or a Verstappen in your lineup, and you can’t treat them all the same.

    I hope Alex does not abandon F1, he is a good driver, but he requires another Technical Director,… and Marko requires another type of driver.

    Please remind me of the good drivers that RB has let go of for not giving them the right time and way of maturing.

    1. @luis Well, maybe, but on the other hand RB wants the best drivers. When the pressure is on, the best drivers perform, and not the best start sinking. Remember when Mark Webber announced about his retirement and RB said they will choose from one of the two Toro Rosso drivers. Daniel Ricciard started performing better and better, he just thrived under this pressure. And he showed in the RB seat he is the real deal, one of the 4 best drivers on the grid. You can let the guy drive without pressure, give him time, but do you remember the driver that really kick started his career in that way? Well, I don’t. The best were always on it from the word go. I would not continue with Alex Albon, hire one of the 2 available experienced drivers (Checo or Hulk) and keep him for several years until a better prospect arrives than Albon or Gasly. At least, they’d score more points and would be more useful.

  9. Well the car is set up to benefit Max with a tricky rear.

    Give Alex a car set up for him and he’d do better.

    The performance and actions of Helmut & Christian are the ones that should be analysed.

    They’re burning young drivers.

    1. Agreed!

      Let’s see what they do with the new guy. Assuming they don’t learn from their mistakes by then.

      1. How do you know Max is happy with the tricky rear and that he ‘benefits’ from it? Perhaps he too would like a more stable back end and then he’d be even more competitive. And it seems like they have dialed some of that out anyway.

  10. If that is a good performance they should put somebody else, maybe Perez, in that seat.

    The car was good enough to win. He was behind Verstappen who spun and made an unnecessary pit stop.

  11. Most of the fault of the situation they are on is Red Bull’s, mostly Marko’s. They have had excellent drivers (Buemi, Vergne, Ricciardo, even Sainz) and it seems like Marko is there only to relieve his personal frustations destroying other drivers’ F1 careers, good and bad.
    I understand Verpstappen might have some demands that he thinks are the better for him now that he is the only good thing left at the team but he might or might not be there in the future and they need to start working on sorting out their problems, yet I have no doubt Marko will continue doing everything in his power to continue with his behavior, like waiting to the last minute of the season to make a decision to leave another driver without a drive next year, and I have no doubt he must be supporting whatever the worst option they have available. He’s the one they should fire.

  12. It seems that part of the problem, the part that Red Bull created themselves, is having a B Team and really using it as a driver development tool. Ferrari may have one or more B Teams, but they don’t mess with them like RB does. Should they be congratulated or ..??
    I don’t fully buy the car set-up excuse. When Gasly was early days at RB, he and his engineer were tailoring the car to his wishes. It didn’t work and he did better with the same settings as Max.
    Apologies to Albon, but if RB and Honda want a real shot at the WCC and the WDC in 2021, they need a winner or a development guy (both would be great) in the second car. AA isn’t either.

  13. They should give Gasly & Albon another full season at Alpha tauri..as well as tsunoda another full season at F2 and then decide what to do..in te meantime Perez & Verstapppen would be a great Lineup at RBR !

  14. Redbull cola is just a soft drink. At best a spot for sponsorship, but nothing more. So much of noise of carbon dioxide coming out this shaken cola can.

  15. Albon didn’t actually have all of the updates yet though. Only Verstappen had the full package.

  16. Jose Lopes da Silva
    21st November 2020, 19:39

    “Maybe the car was set up so only Verstappen could drive it.”

    Is there anyone able to provide technical insight regarding this question? Why is a Formula One team unable to change the setup of one of its cars?

    1. Good question, I still am not convinced that any team “build a car “ around a specific driver conceptually doesn’t make sense.

      1. @icarby You can’t understand that some drivers like to have more front grip, or rear grip, or certain braking behavior?

        If they like the car to behave a certain way and it doesn’t, then the need to underdrive the car to still keep it on the track.

        Like with Schumacher who like the front planted for a strong turn in and then deals with the rear. Or Vettel who is pretty much the opposite and wants the rear to be stable. Why would they not design the car with that in mind if that driver is the main (if not sole) focus of the team?

        1. @f1osaurus This isn’t about “understanding” just what a driver wants, I’d expect a team to build a car that gets around the track in the fastest way possible across all the circuits within the calendar, within the technical regulations.

          Mercs run a longer car length than pretty much everyone and there concept has kept them at the sharp end, amongst other things, for years. I don’t think that was solely a preference for drivers but they will, where they can, make adjustments based on feedback from drivers I.e Hamilton/Bottas/Rosberg/Schumacher probably had different requirements/preferences ultimately they can’t sacrifice the car concept just on the desires of the driver.

          There is an article on a rival racing publication where Hamilton talks about how the Mercedes team recently overcame a cornering issue as before it made it more difficult to deal with in previous seasons, so to me or with my “understanding” Merc team have a concept, drivers drive the car, provide feedback and if the team can “fix” the shortcomings keeping car concept and driver happy then you’re in a good place.

          1. @icarby Fastest is just not the same for all drivers.

      2. Google “Barnard offers reasons for Schumacher’s struggles at Mercedes” or “Bottas: “My driving style doesn’t fit the Mercedes”

        Great drivers can work around this, but like Barnard explains, by then Schumacher was probably too old to still manage this. Bottas at least is lucky that Mercedes offers him equal opportunity and also solves his style issues.

    2. Jose Lopes da Silva, it can be a consequence of the technical regulations, which can be separate to technical decisions made by the teams themselves.

      One example would be that, over the past few years, some of the regulation changes have resulted in a forward shift in the handling balance of the cars – some of them being a consequence of the rules allowing for more development scope for the front bodywork compared to the rear, and some of them a consequence of trying to cut the wake of the cars by altering the front wing endplates to cut down on outwashing, which impacted on the sealing of the rear part of the floor.

      In the case of Ferrari in 2019, there were reports that their 2019 car initially had handling issues for that reason. With the front aerodynamics improving more rapidly than the rear, there were reports that, at some circuits, Ferrari had difficulty in setting up their car because they couldn’t increase the rear downforce any further (i.e. the rear wing was already at its maximum setting) and had a car with a built-in oversteer bias.

  17. It’s clear Albon has talent and is improving slightly. I think RB is better off keeping Albon even if Perez is a good driver. If the car has no grip or deg, I don’t see how you can pin that on the driver.

    1. No. I want to see some team challenges Mercedes, and Redbull can, but it is clear Albon will not contribute to that. In the sake of the sport His time should be over.

  18. Lol, Albon articles… i skip ‘Em and just go right to the comments.

  19. It was stronger compared to Max that made all mistakes, but still in front at the end.
    However it was weak again compared to Perez

  20. My personal opinion…..

    I would like to see the Red Bull seat go to one of the following

    a) Either Perez or Hulkenburg (both amazing talents who shouldn’t have lost their seats)
    b) A young up and coming British talent (personally I always like cheering on the Brits, a fourth alongside Hamilton, Norris and Russell is always welcome!)
    c) A woman driver (F1’s slogan this year is “We race as one” and in that spirit I’d love to see one of the female drivers in the lower formula get a RB seat! *Superlicence pending)
    d) Re-promote from within the Red Bull stable.

    For me the perfect scenario would be the extremely talented W Series Champion Jamie Chadwick, which meets my b) and c) criteria. I think she is one of the most promising talents. Visser her rival for the championship is also very talented too.

    Albon has not impressed me at all. His moaning line during the German GP this year of “they race me so hard” really angered me. Of course they are going to race him hard, they want to beat him. Part and parcel of being in F1. He has made too many mistakes this year to warrant a RB drive for next year. He’s made around the same amount of mistakes that Gasly made and Kyvat made. Both were demoted sharpish. I think I heard on the Sky Turkish practice commentary (either then or during the C4 quali/race commentary as I watch the practice on Sky and the quali/race on C4) that RB is part Thai owned?

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