Verstappen gave “honest opinion” on Albon’s difficulties to Red Bull

2021 F1 season

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Max Verstappen says he shared his views on the difficulties Alexander Albon was having at Red Bull with the team’s management before they decided to replace him.

Red Bull confirmed today Sergio Perez will replace Albon in their line-up next year. Albon will remain the team’s test and reserve driver, a decision Verstappen said he is pleased with.

“Of course we spoke about it and I just gave my honest opinion,” he said. “I think it was quite clear that throughout the whole year it was sometimes quite tricky for Alex – he’s a great guy, honestly, and I’m happy that he’s part of the team.

“But at the end of the day obviously it’s Helmut [Marko] and Christian [Horner] and Dietrich [Mateschitz] making the decisions. Of course I knew a bit before but at the end of the day, that doesn’t matter.”

Perez’s arrival could make Red Bull a greater threat to Mercedes, Verstappen hopes. While he often ran close to the pace-setting W11s this year, Albon in the other Red Bull did not, which allowed Mercedes greater strategic freedom.

Verstappen said last weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was one of few occasions Albon was close enough to the Mercedes pair in a race to limit their strategic options.

“In Abu Dhabi I think at the end Alex was quite close,” he said. “Most of the time Mercedes are trying to go for an extra [pit] stop or whatever and then I’m in more difficulties because most of the year when we were quite competitive like this, I was the only car trying to beat them and trying to do something different. But they can always do the right strategy with one of them because they can obviously cover me with one car. So it was always a bit difficult to fight them.”

While Verstappen said he doubts Perez’s arrival will “change anything [in] my performance”, he hopes his new team mate will keep him honest on the track.

“I hope that Checo will be the one first of all, of course, to push the whole team forward. But also keep me on my toes, which is always nice, to have a team mate pushing you, it’s exciting.

“Then hopefully we can, with a bit more of a competitive car from the start, make it just a bit more interesting and difficult for [Mercedes] to make decisions.”

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Dieter Rencken
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40 comments on “Verstappen gave “honest opinion” on Albon’s difficulties to Red Bull”

  1. Props to Max, not the first time he says he want a more competitive teammate, lets see if Checo can be that person, he certainly seems quicker than Albon, this might turn the championship interesting as in my opinion (My Opinion) Checo is better than Bottas

    1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      18th December 2020, 18:26

      @johnmilk I don’t think Checo will challenge Max in qualy often but his race consistency and tyre management might produce some surprises towards the end of races and will certainly give Mercedes a few strategy headaches. As for Bottas, better than Checo on Saturday, not a patch on him on Sunday.

      1. That to me seems like a fair assessment @davewillisporter, it will be interesting to see how much Perez can get out of that Red Bull; who knows maybe his experience at different teams helps him get a lot more out of it than Albon, though yeah, not likely enough to threaten Verstappen on ultimate pace.

        But indeed, always good to see top drivers show how much of a competitor they are @johnmilk, for as much as Verstappen wants to win he – like most of them I hope – loves it best when he is being challenged and can show himself and us just what he’s capable of.

        1. Also lets not for get Perez is coming from a Mercedes powered car. He may have a few trade
          secrets to pass on. If Redbull are listening im sure his inside knowledge of the power unit and race setup etc would be of benifit to them.

          Perez tire managment is also testiment to how well balanced that car was. I’m not sure he’ll find the car anywhere as well balanced. Twitchy seems to be how the Redbull like to run their cars.

    2. Folks, take screenshots before back tracking.

  2. Real shame for Albon – I was hoping he’d be competitive in the Red Bull.

    1. @freelittlebirds Same, and I indeed was hopeful after a promising nine-race stint in 2019, but things, unfortunately, changed mysteriously for this year, resulting in him starting to struggle similarly to Gasly.

      1. I guess last year there was no real pressure or expectation put upon Albon @jerejj, @freelittlebirds.

        Quite a shame because last year Albon seemed to be on a path forward. Maybe if those two accidents with Hamilton did not happen (Brazil and in Austria this season) he would have been able to continue improving. In the end, it went the same way as it seems it went for all recent 2nd drivers plunked into the Red Bull

        1. @bascb yes, I wish he hadn’t forced the issue in those accidents.

          1. That’s a bit revisionist, given the stewards decisions, in both cases..

        2. Yes, I’m really sad about it, even if I’m similarly happy for Checo. Although loosing the drive would have been even more unfair in the case of Perez or Russell, so the reason why we have to even consider such bad things is because of the scarcity of seats and the lack of able-to-enter constructors I guess.

          Those two likely podiums could have done very good to Albon’s self esteem, and reputation, especially as the second case happened at the season opener. I believed in Albon for a long while, but now it will be hard to get a good seat for him in F1, as the ranks are quite filled with quite nice drivers, and there are still some good looking prospects at F2. Probably if Gasly moves to Renault, or someone chooses to retire.

          Albon won the Rookie of the Year prize in 2019, and with a 2nd place at the season opener he could be 4th at the final rankings, and Perez 5th. Or he could be a race winner at F1, even if his fate was to have two seasons at the series. What a contrast. Somewhat similar to Zhou’s trajectory at F2, after being a very promising rookie, he lost that silksmooth seeming win at the season opener due to a car failure, and then an ocean of difficult races came for him too.

          I’m awaiting the next season very much too, because of the many new amazing driver pairings.

          1. Actually that theoretical 2nd place at the season opener would give a tie for Albon and Perez on points: 123-123, but Perez would be still retain 4th at the final standings, because of having a GP win, while Albon having a 2nd place as best result.

    2. Made the same mistake as Kvyat and Gasly, all started to change the car in order to suit them rather than suit themselves to the speed of the car, early on Albon was not that far but like all of them he just kept getting slower.

  3. Max says he wants a competitive teammate (I’m not sure what his contract says though) but Red Bull has shown in the past they don’t play that way, they want a clear #1 and #2 driver. The team has also said in the past that making Max the youngest world champion was their goal; they have missed that opportunity since in order to beat Vettel’s record of 23 years and 134 days old Max would have had to win the drivers’ championship in 2020, that doesn’t mean that Red Bull no longer see him as a future champion after all they have invested in him…

    1. Red Bull always tried to combine two competitive teammates. Not always that pan out as planned and yes they seem to choose for the best of the two in an early stage. But if checo wins more races then max they do not have a problem shifting the attention.
      To be honest..i.e. Vettel was by far the best driver compared with a certain Australian driver ( multi 21 ;) But at times he too did very nice on track.

    2. There’s no evidence of this. Webber was the senior driver at Red Bull during the Vettel era, and Red Bull proposed a contract extension with a significant pay raise to Ricciardo when he decided to leave for Renault.

      1. @paeschli surely it’s not just a question of the salary though, but what other terms the team were asking him to accept. After all, Ricciardo was prepared to take a heavy pay cut to move to McLaren from Renault (some suggesting a cut in the order of 60%), and it seems that it was some of the other terms that would have come with the deal that might not have appealed, such as the plans to change how the teams of engineers would be allocated in 2019.

        As for Webber being “the senior driver at Red Bull during the Vettel era” – he might have been senior in terms of age, but he’s pointed out in the past that he felt the management at Red Bull was treating Vettel “like a favourite son”, and he never really trusted either Marko or Horner as he felt that Marko fairly openly favoured Vettel and Horner wasn’t prepared to challenge Marko on that because he was worried he’d lose his job if he did. Webber is certainly not the only one who has said that Horner is more of a ceremonial figurehead and that Marko really runs the team either, nor the first to raise questions over whether Marko really is that neutral in the way he runs the team.

        Now, to be fair, there is always the question of how balanced an autobiography might be and whether Webber’s own perception might be skewed. That said, Marko himself did make some comments towards the latter part of Webber’s career, particularly his final year at Red Bull, that implied that he thought of Webber as a No.2 driver to Vettel, so the idea that Marko’s management of Red Bull might be biased is not inconceivable.

        1. @anon It remains to be seen how well Checo will fare. F1 is harsh and it’s fans fickle. Yes praise Checo for his strong performance this year and he deserves that seat etc, etc. Fans tend to lionize a driver for having a great year and crucify him if he fails the next. I hope Yuki Tsunoda is taking notes.

        2. Anon, although Webber himself kept re-signing one year deals to stay at the team. How bad must it have really been then? I think if Marko spoke of or thought of Webber as the number two driver it is because as Newey evolved the car with EBD that ended up being more to SV’s liking, which then gave him the tools to be ahead of MW more often. But they didn’t sit there asking themselves what they could do to only make SV faster and somehow exclude MW from the same, like they could devine what would ensure that, or like they would even want to engineer MW out of the equation. If SV was the favourite son it is because between their two drivers it ended up the combo of SV/Newey succeeded more than MW/Newey. Were they to take what was succeeding for SV and then diminish that so that MW could keep up?

        3. There are more than enough independent data points to draw an accurate depiction of how Redbull operates.

    3. Dolphin everyone sees Max as a future Champion, especially since, if you want to go down the ‘clear #1 and #2’ road, that means Max won his first race with RBR in DR’s car. Clearly by going along with this thinking DR became the clear #1 post-Vettel, although he was bested by Kvyat in 2015, but still…And then there’s the fact that they wanted very much for DR to stay, and that would have made Max’s life more difficult. Not that that bothered Max. He wanted the competition and the push just as he has spoken of hopefully getting that from SP.

      If Max is clear number 1, he made himself that. And he did that well before they had a chance to ‘make the car his’ let alone make it suit him to the extreme of it being to his teammates’ disadvantage.

  4. Respect to Max for the kind words towards his new teammate. I hope Perez helps you and Honda turns up the wick on those engines. I can’t wait for next season.

  5. Christian Horner: Max, what are your thoughts on Albon?
    Max Verstappen: Well, to be completely honest…
    Everyone: Got it.

  6. Red Bull will not be able to challenge Mercedes no matter who Max’s team mate is. Red Bull will get plenty of competition from McLaren and Renault

    1. someone or something
      19th December 2020, 0:08

      Next year’s cars are going to be this year’s cars with very limited development. McLaren will have to spend all their development tokens on the accommodation of the Mercedes PU, so don’t expect them to get more competitive. Renault? Alonso in a halfway competitive car is always a threat, but the gap to Red Bull was something like a full second on average …
      Aston Martin may be the only team with a chance of making some progress. They stand to benefit from a massive loophole that allows them to use all the updates Mercedes make to their listed parts AND spend all their development tokens on top of that.
      If only they hadn’t replaced their strongest driver with arguably the biggest loser of 2020 …

      1. Well said !! It is like Aston Martin throwing away gold and get silver! I hope they suffer as I am big fan of Perez who is really a genuine good guy and a terrific racer.Vettle was once a brilliant racer too but he has lost his fighting spirit so I wonder if he ever will be good like Perez.Good luck to Perez at Redbull racing

  7. Everybody fears RedBull now.

    That’s good for Formula One.

    Smartest move in the past five years.

    Racing point or whatever they are called brings in a four time champ to bolster thier midfield status.

    RedBull brings in a one time race winner to challenge for the title.

    All good in Formula One. They’ve got their story now.

    1. lol, for a second I missed your sarcasm. I was going to say Mercedes doesn’t fear them except in press releases.

      Like you imply, the only taste of competitiveness is in F1 media narratives. People like to say it was the same during Schumi’s era of dominance, but they must not have been watching or have forgotten what actually happened. Many, many times Schumacher was beaten and Ferrari seemed off the pace at this or that track. Reubens often failed to qualify not only on the front row, but in the top 4. Finally, technical problems occurred often enough as well that one could depend on snatching up some victories even when Ferrari looked unbeatable. Now, can any of the same said be said about the Mercedes era when usually only a totally freak occurrence would allow a non-Mercedes to win and basically almost never on true pace.

        1. The Redbull dominant era gets thrown into the mix too, but Redbull never enjoyed the gap to the rest of the field that Mercedes has through this era. In 2011, and 2013 they were dominant, but the gap to the field in quali was only around 0.3 seconds. In 2012 McLaren won just as many races as Redbull (7), and Redbull, McLaren, Ferrari, Williams and Mercedes all won races. It could also be argued that in the second half of 2013, none of Redbull’s rivals continued developing their cars and switched to developing for the 2014 rule change, as early in the season, Ferrari, Mercedes and Lotus all won races before Vettel dominated the second half of the Seaton.

  8. Seems I am the only one disappointed with this development.
    The expectation was that at about the half-way through the season, Perez would be drafted back to Aston Martin to partner Lance S. for the balance of 2021. Now what’s gonna happen.?
    Go Checo …..!! Can’t wait.

    1. With that scenario in mind, my NY prediction is that Hulkenberg will spend more time in the gym and less on the couch.

  9. There are a lot of assumptions that Perez coming in will move the second car closer to Max.

    Let’s not forget that when the hybrid engines came in, Sebastian Vettel went from winning four titles in a row, to not winning a race with Red Bull in 2014. And it’s not like the car couldn’t win races – Ricciardo won three. And it’s not like Vettel was a spent force at the time either – he went on to win races with Ferrari and be the closest challenger to Mercedes in 3 of the following 4 seasons.

    Perez is a good driver, but it’s easier to look better in the comparison to your team mate when your team mate is Stroll. Did he necessarily maximise the opportunity of a car that was viewed as a copy of last year’s Mercedes? Is he necessarily going to deliver better results in a car that since the start of the hybrid era has been less well behaved than the cars he is used to driving?

    If we doubt how sensitive that Red Bull is, even Max has had quite a few spins in it. Including that rather unfathomable collision with the barriers going to the grid in Hungary. Max gets away with that because he does deliver on one lap, and does make it to the podium. But then Albon has lost two podiums through collisions that Lewis was punished for.

    Albon did a solid, but unspectacular job in a difficult car. Perez might do better, but there is no basis to assume that. He could easily end up struggling more in a difficult car.

    1. Graham for sure that is true, but I’d like to think/hope that RBR will be able to address the rear sensitivity issue in the off-season. It sure seems by all accounts they did address it quite a bit throughout the season. Now the cars will have some floor removed, and the teams will do things to claw that lost downforce back, which to me means an inevitable shift in setups vs this season (for all teams) as to how best to maximize balance and tire usage etc. So I am not taking it as a given that the car will be similarly difficult such as it was particularly in the first half of this season. It may suit both Max and Perez very well for all we know. As Horner has said the car is 60% the same car as last year, but that 40% that isn’t, is the crucial part. Plus…as we know F1 is always a work in progress. I think Max and Perez will do a great job together improving the car as the season goes along.

    2. Good point, the redbull is a difficult car to drive. Max seems to have the master of it, but he would be so much better, able to push the car even harder if it werent so twitchy. As for his team mates, they’ve all found it hard to adapt to. Either that or Redbull have been running their engines on a different stratgic setup, making them seem less competent in qualifying, and off the pace in the race. We’ll have to wait to see what seasoned Perez makes of the car, hopefully his bold enough to demand a car better suited to his skills.

      1. It’s a difficult car to drive because Max can and is driving the car at 100% of its limits. To find all the latent speed in a car become exponentially harder.

        Hamilton and Bottas have a 1 second advantage over the field. Hamilton especially doesn’t have to drive anywhere close to 100% to crush the field. He can drive within the limits of the car.

        When Merc started to feel some heat from Ferrari and RBR in 2017/18 (Merc was still much quicker) remember the Merc suddenly becoming a “diva”. Of course it was. 2014-16 they had the most dominant cars of all time, virtually unchallenged, locking out most front rows. They weren’t exploring the limits of the car. In 2017/18 they had to.

  10. Albon needs to get out of Red Bull and go to Formula E where he should have been in the first place.

  11. “Honestly Christian, he’s crap”

  12. Everyone sad for Albon should feel much more sad for Russell.

    He showed immediately that he was as quick at Bottas with zero preparation, barely fitting into the cockpit and the car being setup and designed to another driver’s preferences. 48 hours later he was comprehensively quicker than Bottas despite still figuring out how to managed tyres in a Merc.

    Albon had over 12 months to prove he was worthy of being in the 3rd/4th best seat in F1 and he simply isn’t up to it.

    It would be stealing from a more worthy driver to keep Albon in that seat.

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