Losing Red Bull drive “hurts” says Albon as he targets 2022 return

2021 F1 season

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Alexander Albon has spoken for the first time about the pain of losing his seat at Red Bull for the 2021 F1 season.

The team confirmed two days ago Albon will be replaced by Sergio Perez in their line-up for next year.

“It hurts,” Albon told his social media followers today. “I gave it everything out there, but it wasn’t quite enough.”

Albon joined the team during the 2019 summer break as a replacement for Pierre Gasly. His move to Red Bull’s senior team came just 12 races into his grand prix career and less than seven months after his first test in a Formula 1 car.

Over the course of his first full season with Red Bull this year Albon scored less than half as many points as team mate Max Verstappen. His seat was known to be in doubt for a long time, but Red Bull waited until the end of the season before deciding to swap him for Perez.

Albon, who will serve as Red Bull’s test and reserve driver next year, thanked his followers for their support and said he intends to be back in the Formula 1 grid in 2022.

“I want to say a huge thank you to all of you that supported me throughout this year, especially my Thai fans. With all the different opinions out there, I always had you guys to push me through it.

“I’m not giving up, I’ve poured my life into this and I won’t let it stop here. I have more to give and my focus is getting back for 2022 and to wave the Thai flag again.”

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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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49 comments on “Losing Red Bull drive “hurts” says Albon as he targets 2022 return”

  1. In terms of performance he reminds me to Heikki Kovalainen McLaren. Deserving of their chance to race at a top tea but will hardly be missed. I think the confounding factor is Alex is likeable and has a bunch of friends in F1 and now social media brings that to the front so much.

    1. Nothing against your comment, I just find many people who say he’s likeable, to me he sounded arrogant, like: losing red bull drive hurts, what did you expect with a worst-of-the-grid-performance? And before that also saying he doesn’t have a plan B, and that he wouldn’t accept to go back to toro rosso, if he’s performing fine on toro rosso and not on red bull that’s his place. Won’t be missed by me.

      1. Ah, yes, and complaints like “they race me so hard”, or “it wasn’t possible to do more than 6th for us today” the race where perez won and verstappen crashed, yeah, for a subpar driver better than 6th isn’t possible on the 2nd best car..

        1. “race me hard” was in response to a Toro Rosso, which is their sister team.

          Not the best comment but perfectly acceptable as a line in a stressful racing situation especially if its cherry pick on TV from his entire radio message.

          1. No, moaning that: “oh, they race me so hard” is not acceptable for an F1 driver, under any circumstances. It reveals a mindset.

      2. petebaldwin (@)
        21st December 2020, 11:36

        @esploratore – To be fair to him, going back to Toro Rosso would be pointless. Gasley went back to Toro Rosso and did really well managing to score a win and Red Bull still decided to go with a good midfield driver instead of him for next year.

        Drivers like Kvyat, Gasley and (if he went back) Albon are just filling a seat until Red Bull have someone else they want to try out. You get a year or two at Toro Rosso and then get your chance at Red Bull. You sink or swim and that’s it. As Sainz has shown, at that point, you need to move on if you want to remain in F1 long-term.

        1. Montréalais (@)
          22nd December 2020, 0:13

          +1 @petebaldwin

          I especially like your second paragraph. Well argued IMO.

    2. I’m not sure I would compare these two. Kovalainen was actually able to beat Hamilton at times on merit and they were close in qualifying – neither of which is true with Albon. Sure, Kovalainen wasn’t a superstar but he is underrated.

      What is also often forgotten is the fact that Kvyat fared far better at Red Bull than either Gasly or Albon. He hasn’t excelled at Toro Rosso by any means but he too is in my opinion underrated. Both Gasly and Albon were thoroughly beaten by Verstappen unlike Kvyat by Ricciardo or Kovalainen by Hamilton.

      Just to make things clear, I’m not saying Albon or Gasly are as bad drivers as their Red Bull results imply. Whatever the reason, they just couldn’t get any results, perhaps the car simply didn’t suit them. It’s like Vettel’s 2021 – he is not that bad, that’s for sure.

  2. Good luck Alex. Would be a shame to have the talent not come to the fore.

  3. His chances of returning to a regular drive in F1 might more likely be in teams other than the Red Bull-owned ones.

    1. He’ll find more luck looking in other categories. I think his days as an F1 driver are counted.

      1. @spafrancorchamps I am expecting that his career as an active F1 driver are also over at this point, because it is hard to see where he could feasibly slot in at another team.

        His lack of experience means he can’t really act as an experienced lead driver that could act as a focal point for the team, and there are other drivers who would be better fitted to that role who are on the market (e.g. Hulkenberg). If Red Bull needed, for whatever reason, to call up an experienced driver, there’s no guarantee that Albon would even be called up before Kvyat, given that Kvyat has a definite advantage in terms of experience.

        Albon would therefore be having to hope that somebody might look on him as having the potential to develop further and worth a gamble. However, younger drivers like Ocon and Giovinazzi have also shown the downside of having an extended gap in those formative early years of a drivers career, with both having struggled to get back up to speed after a long break from motorsport (Giovinazzi’s break between F2 and F1 and Ocon’s break between F1 seats).

        That would mean that Albon would probably need to find a way to keep active in racing to improve his chances of possibly getting a 2022 seat – if he were inactive for an extended period of time, I can’t see any team wanting to wait to see if Albon could possibly get himself back up to speed after that much time out of the sport.

        Albon also faces the problem that, whilst Red Bull have been going through a period where they didn’t have anybody who could get a superlicence, they are now beginning to address those problems.
        In terms of new talent, they already have one driver, in the form of Juri Vips, who does now have a superlicence and could step in if a gap arose – meanwhile, if Daruvala can perform at a similar level in 2021 to his late 2020 season form, then he could possibly put himself into a position to gain a superlicence next year as well. Add to that Tsuonda’s promotion to Toro Rosso, and now Albon faces a situation where there is a fair bit of competition within Red Bull for a seat from junior drivers.

        If, as others suggest, Albon looks outside of Red Bull, he’s facing the problem that nearly half of the possible seats for 2022 are already accounted for.
        Out of those teams which might have seats, though, several are unlikely to pick Albon when they will probably be looking for a driver from either their own junior team or from the junior team that their supplier has founded. After all, if you are the Alfa Romeo team, you’re more likely to pick somebody like Illot, given his connections with Ferrari, than somebody from a rival programme. Equally, for some smaller teams, they’d probably want a driver who could bring more sponsorship in than Albon probably would.

        Albon might be hoping that Red Bull only keep Perez for 2021, then promote Tsunoda or Gasly to the parent team for 2022 and that both Vips and Daruvala have poor Formula 2 seasons that put Red Bull off from promoting them to Toro Rosso, which might open a seat there – that looks like a more likely route to get a seat within Red Bull. Outside of that, his prospects for 2022 look fairly limited – I can’t really see where he can go.

        1. Just one thing to add, Giovinazzi isn’t younger, he’s 27. I’m still unconvinced about Alfa keeping him tbh.

          1. @felipemassadobrasil I was using the term “younger drivers” as more of a relative term to describe the situation that figures like Giovinazzi and Ocon faced when their career was disrupted.

            In the case of Giovinazzi, yes, he might be 27 now and is slightly older than Albon but, when he had that initial disruption to his career in 2018, he was very similar in terms of age to Albon – Giovinazzi being 25 in 2018, and Albon being just a few months shy of his 25th birthday now.

      2. I can’t see Gasly sticking around at Alpha Tauri much longer, I think he’s got his eyes on Ocon’s seat. If that happens I can see Albon taking that spot.

    2. @jerejj that might not be the case… Will Gasly be promoted to RedBull or will he stay another year at Alpha Tauri? He might jump ship if a decent opportunity comes along. Then Albon could be in AT for 2022. Maybe not the strongest team but they will be around top 6..9. So he’d feel right at home there.

      1. @w0o0dy it’s not guaranteed though, because Albon would also have to find a way to demonstrate that he was a better bet than the possible junior drivers that Red Bull could promote.

      2. @w0o0dy I see a line up of Tsunoda and Vips at AT for 2022 as a more like scenario than any other, given that Vips already has a super license, although the performance in F2 next year matters as well. Also a somewhat difficult situation for Gasly. For him, I see either a re-promotion (should RB be more willing than they were at any point this year) or leaving altogether for another team a la Sainz.

  4. Well, 2021 could still be a target, knowing RB won’t hesitate to change a driver mid-season he is favored to take the seats of Perez, Gasly and Tsunoda if one of them does not delivers.

    1. They did that twice in a decade. Once to rectify their mistake of keeping Max at Toro Rosso too long, even though he had a Red Bull Racing contract for 2017 already. And the second time because the driver in question was getting lapped in races by their other driver.

      I highly doubt either scenario is likely to occur with Checo or their Toro Rosso talent next year.

  5. The history of the sport is riddled with guys in Albons position. It’s a life lesson that has a bitter taste. You done what few have done and many dream about. You lost your seat for the potential of a better driver at the moment. But the team has retained you to perform different but still important functions which become a part of a better future for the whole team.
    The most of the 2020 season seemed as if RedBull was a single entry team.
    Not until the team faced rolling the dice on a new winner or just hoping that things will improve with the existing driver but No more time for hopes and wishes any more. RedBull fields a team where one driver is feared and the other isn’t even a worry for most. Start adding it up the change HAD to happen. It’s ok to feel bad. But it’s now time to do the new job to the best of abilities. Albon now walks a path so many have walked before. Personally this moves means his top line drive is over. Each season that goes by now means it’s really over and many great drivers also found themselves in Albons position. Bummer

  6. One of the most neat and likeable guys in F1 history.
    Not necessarily for their on-track performance, but for who they are, in general.
    Mansell, Hulk, Capelli, Hakkinen, Warwick, Heidfeld, Kobayashi are some other names that I could put there.
    But THE king will alway be one. Kimi. “I don’t know, I was having a sh*it”…Ahahahah, GOD.

  7. One wonders whether his season would have been different if he’d won the opening race by being a little more patient rather than risk getting punted off the track by Hamilton.

    As has always been the case, F1 has had a lot of drivers that have raced and not quite made the grade. I had high hopes for Albon, he had great passing skills, and was pretty good in races but he just couldn’t master the extra speed required for qualifying.

    He’ll join a long list of drivers that had initial credentials but were found to be just a fraction off what was required to remain in F1. Unfortunate, but that’s F1.

  8. I wish him good luck but he must forget a return to f1. Unfortunately he had the bad luck to be near max and that played not only a psychological role against him but also he wasn’t near him in pure racing ability imo. I wish f1 had more strict rules for who can race in a f1 car with full accounting the achievements of a driver but money bucking play a bigger role now.

  9. Albon has done some good things and shown he is a great F1 driver.. but he couldn’t adept to the Rb16 well enough. That would mean a problem for 2021 too. So better do an amazing job behind the scenes, get to grips with what he still needs to learn and come back stronger. He’s still in the team, so with 4 seats to divide who knows what 2022 will bring?

  10. Not to state the obvious but accepting that Red Bull drive was the worst possible decision. Unless it was a ‘we’re putting Gasly back in the Toro Rosso, you either drive for us or not at all’ situation.

    1. I mean of he declined, they may never give him another chance. They will remember stiff like that.

      In hindsight, Gasly performing badly in RB as he did was a blessing in disguise for him. He got back into his older seat that he did way better this year and can continue to show his credentials for future seat prospects. If he was unlucky with the timing, he would have been marooned like Albon at the moment.

  11. He had a chance in 2 race winning cars and failed to deliver, that’s a lot more than most get in F1. Maybe hope as a pay driver if he can drum up sponsorship but I don’t see how else he can get back on the grid. Maybe better looking elsewhere or going the same route as De la Rosa and Wurz as a long term test driver. I have no malice for the guy, he just didn’t prove he was Good enough this year.

  12. I am still not convinced his pace was soley down to him. The two Bahrain races were a good example. The first race he was showing good pace relative to max, then the second race was completely off the pace. There was no mention by RB of any issues with the car but the difference in pace over two weekends on a largely similar track did not make sense.
    There were other times it was clear the RB was fundamentally unstable to drive, yes you need to drive around those difficulties. But there arent actually many drivers who can consistantly do that every week.
    Max is an amaxing driver one of my favorites, but i really dont think Albon is as bad as some seem to be making him out to be. But its been clear to me the RB have history of building a car around one driver over another.

    1. @theoddkiwi Albon was running 40 seconds behind Max and 7 behind Perez until the latter’s engine blew. He wasn’t on the pace at all.

      1. Albon finished 8s behind Max at the Bahrain GP. Qualified 4th at Bahrain finished 3rd, then Q 12 at Sakhir finished 6th.
        All three practices he was in the top 6 at Sakhir, while at Bahrain he was way down in 10 in one session.

        My point was why was there such a difference in qualifying at essentially the same track. There was never an explanation.

        Shock horror. Perez lucked into the win at Sakir, due the first lap accidents and Mercedes pit stop shambles where the 4 cars who qualified infront of him were removed from the race through no skill of his own. Somehow Perez is a suddenly god and Albon terrible and doesnt deserve to be in F1.

        1. Point is that Pérez has been consistently good for several seasons

        2. @theoddkiwi Albon only finished 8 seconds behind Max because the race finished under safety car conditions due to Perez’s engine failure, which closed the grid back up.

          On lap 53 – the last representative lap before Perez’s engine failure triggered the yellow flags and then the safety car – Albon was 24 seconds behind Max, and that was with Max taking an additional pit stop on lap 46 to secure a point for fastest lap (the gap had grown to 30 seconds by lap 45). As others have noted, Albon wasn’t even particularly close to Perez in the closing laps – if anything, he was slowly falling back from Perez, with the gap having grown to about 6 seconds, before Perez started slowing as his engine began to fail.

          Albon was still about six tenths off Max’s pace in qualifying for both races too, and his percentage deficit to the eventual pole time was the same in both races. When you look at the percentage time difference, what made the difference was that the midfield pack was more competitive on the outer loop layout – whilst Albon could get away with qualifying that far behind Max on the normal layout, putting in a similar performance on the “outer loop” layout was going to see him being much further behind when the midfield pack were going to be, proportionally, much closer to pole on the revised layout.

          The other aspect is that, in the Sakhir race, you could dismiss it as merely being lucky – but, on the other hand, you could also note that it was Perez’s ability to cut through the field in a way that Albon wasn’t capable of doing that meant Perez could put himself into a position to take advantage when that mistake occurred.

          Yes, the cars that had qualified ahead of him were out of contention, but Perez had to fight his way back through the field, including back past Albon, because he’d been spun round and ended up at the back of the grid at the start of the race. To merely dismiss it as lucky ignores the fact that he’d had to overcome the initial misfortune of being spun round and ending up at the back of the grid before that.

        3. @theoddkiwi The 8s gap at the end of the race was because of the Safety Car that came out when Perez was forced to stop his smoking car on the side of the track. I’ll just reiterate that he WAS over 40 seconds behind Max and 7 behind Perez until the latter’s engine blew.

          Also it wasn’t ‘essentially’ the same track at all. The only things that were the same were turns 1 through 3, the back straight and the last corner. The amount of time spent on full throttle was more in the latter, the proportion of slow corners and the significance of traction zones was a lot less, the bumps were more…a lot of stuff was different in terms of setup.

          And yes, Perez did luck into a win, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that he would still have likely finished 3rd and Albon would have been 8th at the flag if the Mercs didn’t mess up. Not to mention that Perez beat Albon after essentially switching to the same one-stop strategy and having had to clear a lot of traffic as well as saving his tyres.

  13. It is said RBR offered him the seat next to Gasly but he is so prideful he turned it down. Bit arrogant for my liking. I guess a lot of fans like that.

    1. Any link on this? I thought there was a high probability of that happening – Keep Tsunoda in some other series and give Albon another chance in Alpha Tauri.

    2. I don’t believe he would have turned that down if they actually offered him a seat back in AT. He knew there was no chance of a seat on the F1 grid next year other than that one, so why would he reject it? Also he would already have seen how Gasly had gone quite some way to fixing his reputation since going back there, so he would have been a complete idiot to not want to do the same.

  14. Drive to Survive on Netflix has created a problem. They have made F1 into a popularity contest. The only thing that has ever mattered or should matter is the stopwatch.

    1. It should, but it never really was that way, was it? F1 has always been riddled with politics and sponsorship deals. I can see your point, but really doubt Netflix show has such a big impact as you describe.

      Honestly speaking, I believe that Albon case is much strongly supported by Thai-origin of Red Bull drink recepture and related contracts.

    2. Any exception for Mazepin

      1. *?

  15. He can move to Haas in case if they cancel the most hated driver’s contract before the season even starts.

  16. I understand his disappointment but until the dawn of 2019 season he was about to be an FE driver, he had a great opportunity and was given a lot more time than Gasly was. A future opportunity may still arise if Gasly jumps ship, I’m still convinced Gasly will end up at Renault soon enough.

  17. Redbull have been quite cruel with Albon, whisking him out of FE and into their junior F1 team at the last minute and then quickly drafting him into the senior team. The redeeming factor is keeping him on to the end of the season to give him a chance, but even that was a chance under massive pressure for an immature driver.

    The first jump into F1 showed his talent and he should have been left to mature but the Marko madness with drivers stopped that as they wanted to get rid of Gasly. Some of the worst driver management I have seen since Frank Williams was active.

    1. Not sure, if keeping Albon for the whole season was a good thing. Albon would have been better swapping with Kvyat in the last 5-7 races and then racing against Gasly just as they did with Gasly. Of course, this would have been tremendously cruel for Kvyat to be promoted, demoted, dropped, brought in as a spare, signed again, promoted and dropped but at least he would have ended his career with Red Bull and probably won the race at Sakhir.

      I think it would have been the best ending for Albon, Kvyat, and Red Bull.

      1. What about Gasly? If Gasly didn’t perform then you drop him to AT again?

        Albon got thrown in the deep end like Verstappen was and couldn’t perform.

        Verstappen in his first RBR race was up against Ricciardo who had already destroyed Vetel.

        Treating someone cruelly is what Mercedes has done to Wehrlein, to a lesser extent Ocon and hopefully they don’t do the same to Russell. Those guys have been hung out to dry. It’s criminal that Russell isn’t in Bottas’s seat for 2021.

  18. The time to get in the Alpha Tauri was now. If he couldn’t get a ride now, it’ll be very hard to get one. He needed to get a few races in the Alpha Tauri next year to have a chance to redeem himself. If he matched Gasly or bested Gasly, he could have found a drive down the road.

    His only hope is that Perez gets outqualified as badly as he did and ends up scoring P5 or P6. However, Red Bull is changing a lot of the car for next season so it’s unlikely it’ll drive as it did for Gasly and Albon.

    With Covid, there could be a possibility that he does replace a driver next season and he might be able to do a stellar job.

  19. “With all the different opinions out there, I always had you guys to push me through it.”
    A surprising comment to make.

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