Lewis Hamilton, Alexander Albon, Red Bull Ring, 2020

Race-by-race: How Horner explained Albon’s route from near-winner to ex-driver

2020 F1 season

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Following the first F1 race of 2020 it did not look like a year which was going to end with Alexander Albon losing his Red Bull drive.

He started his second year as a grand prix driver, and first full campaign at Red Bull, by coming close to victory in the Austrian Grand Prix. But just five months later he learned he would not be on the grid for the 2021 F1 season.

As Albon’s increasingly difficult season unfolded, Red Bull wrestled with the decision whether to replace him. Last year the same team had been quick to cut Pierre Gasly loose. Albon kept his seat until the end of the year.

But with each passing race team principal Christian Horner found it harder to accentuate the positives in his driver’s performances, and it gradually seemed his days were numbered. Even so, it wasn’t until after the final race that Albon was finally eased aside. Here’s how his season unfolded through the eyes of his team.

Austrian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Alexander Albon, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2020
Albon could have won the first race
Albon started 4th, finished 13th; Verstappen started 2nd, did not finish

When the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix restarted with 11 laps to run, Albon had an outside chance of victory. The two Mercedes drivers were on old rubber, but Red Bull had taken advantage of the opportunity to fit fresh rubber on his car.

He pounced on Lewis Hamilton at the restart and tried to pass the Mercedes driver around the outside of turn four. But the pair tangled, knocking Albon into a spin. Remarkably, it was the second time in three races Hamilton had knocked Albon out of a podium position, and as in the penultimate race of 2019 the world champion was penalised for the collision.

Alex had won the corner. It was on the exit of the corner. Why Lewis needed to stick the wheel in there I have no idea. So obviously it’s frustrating for Alex that this is the second time in three races that this has happened to him. It was unfortunate because I think he would have had a chance to win the race today.
Christian Horner

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Styrian Grand Prix

F1 team mate battles 2020: Verstappen vs Albon
Albon started 6th, finished 4th; Verstappen started 2nd, finished 3rd

Back at the Red Bull Ring for the second round, Albon backed his team mate up in fourth place.

The first half he was struggling and then the second half I thought he drove well and his pace was good. So we need to understand that with him and hopefully help him get more comfortable with the car on the heavy fuel because his pace in the second half of the race was strong.
Christian Horner

Hungarian Grand Prix

Alexander Albon, Red Bull, Hungaroring, 2020
Missing Q3 in Hungary signalled all was not well
Albon started 13th, finished 5th; Verstappen started 7th, finished 2nd

Both Red Bull drivers qualified disappointingly at the Hungaroring, though Albon failed to reach Q3 for the first time.

I’m very pleased. It’s been a difficult weekend for Alex, the car spec’s been changing a lot from session to session. And when you haven’t got the experience, as he doesn’t, then that’s harder to deal with.

So I think actually in the race, he managed to find his rhythm and the pace was very, very good, comparable with Max. His overtaking was strong and against the Ferraris and whoever else he was passing out there, I thought he did a super job.

If you look at his pace in clear air it was pretty decent. So I think we’re very, very satisfied with Alex’s performance.
Christian Horner

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British Grand Prix

Alexander Albon, Kevin Magnussen, Silverstone, 2020
A clash with Magnussen spoiled his first home race
Albon started 12th, finished 8th; Verstappen started 3rd, finished 2nd

Red Bull appointed the experienced Simon Rennie as Albon’s race engineer. “He’s very good at extracting the most and encouraging the driver,” Horner explained. “And I think that’s a benefit for Alex for the rest of the season. So I’m happy. That partnership, I think, will work pretty well.”

However their first weekend together was not one to remember. After going out in Q2 for the second race in a row, Albon picked up a penalty when he knocked Kevin Magnussen out of the race while trying to pass the Haas driver for 12th.

For me that was a racing incident. If you look at it from the beginning, Kevin made a mistake, he got out wide, Alex put his nose in there and then he sort of backed out of it a little bit. It was one of those things. I wasn’t too surprised with the penalty, it could have gone either way.

But I thought his recovery from there was excellent. We’ve seen it on numerous occasions, his ability to come back through the field, and his pace in the race was very good. We just need to have a straightforward, boring weekend for him. But I thought today, once again, he’s driven a very strong grand prix.
Christian Horner

70th Anniversary Grand Prix

Albon started 9th, finished 5th; Verstappen started 4th, finished 1st

Verstappen scored his first victory of the season, while Albon was almost 40 seconds in arrears at the chequered flag, though at least he made it into Q3.

Alex has actually raced phenomenally well this season. I think that, again, should just give him added confidence. We just need to make sure he’s starting further up the grid.
Christian Horner

Spanish Grand Prix

Alexander Albon, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
Red Bull threw every compound at his car in Spain
Albon started 6th, finished 8th; Verstappen started 3rd, finished 2nd

While Verstappen split the Mercedes drivers Albon lost ground, cycling through all three tyre compounds in an attempt to find grip and finishing a lap behind.

Alex made a good start but got boxed in at the first corner behind Valtteri [Bottas] and he then seemed to struggle with degradation on all tyre compounds. Eighth was the outcome of that.

Now we’ll need to go through all the information from the race to try and understand what created that degradation on the three compounds of tyre.
Christian Horner

Belgian Grand Prix

Christian Horner, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
Horner was happy with his line-up as mid-season approached
Albon started 5th, finished 6th; Verstappen started 3rd, finished 3rd

Albon had to pass Gasly – the driver he replaced at Red Bull last year – for fifth, but lost the position to Esteban Ocon on the final lap. Gasly’s consistently strong performances for AlphaTauri were not going unnoticed.

We felt [the medium tyre] would be the best chance to have against the Renaults, we managed to get one of the Renaults at the pit stop, the guys did a faster pit stop than Renault and we felt that that would be the best tyre to be able to attack them. But unfortunately, the tyre got into a similar amount of deg[radation] as the hard tyre. So Alex just wasn’t able to hang onto that fifth place at the end. But I think, nonetheless, he did a good job defending hard throughout the grand prix.

[…] Alex’s performances on Sundays have been very strong. He drove another good race today: His defending, his overtaking, his attacking is always strong and I think we’re going in the right direction. So I think it’s good to see Pierre getting back up to speed which is why he’s still on the programme. But we’re happy with the way things are.
Christian Horner

Italian Grand Prix

Alexander Albon, Red Bull, Monza, 2020
Monza was a missed opportunity as Gasly won
Albon started 9th, finished 15th; Verstappen started 5th, did not finish

Another power unit glitch claimed Verstappen on a day when problems for Mercedes meant a win was there for the taking. Crushingly for Albon, it was Gasly who capitalised, while he failed to score.

Alex suffered damage from contact at turn one which he also incurred an arguably harsh five second time penalty for, putting him to the back of the field before the Safety Car restart.

The damage to Alex’s floor from the early race contact was significant and he was losing around a second a lap throughout the race, resulting in him finishing 15th.
Christian Horner

Tuscan Grand Prix

First podium appearance at Mugello was a relief
Albon started 4th, finished 3rd; Verstappen started 3rd, did not finish

Despite an increasingly difficult season, Albon was clearly owed a podium by his earlier misfortunes, and a race of high attrition at Mugello put that right. He passed Daniel Ricciardo on his way to third place behind the Mercedes pair, Verstappen having been claimed by the chaos on lap one.

A bittersweet day but it’s fantastic to see Alex take his first F1 podium. He’s done a great job all weekend and he had to pass some tough competitors to fight his way back through the field after a couple of difficult starts.

All credit to him because he hasn’t let the negativity or external criticism get him down, he’s picked himself up and put in a first-class performance. I think this podium will give him a boost of confidence and self-belief and I’m sure he will only get stronger from here.
Christian Horner

Russian Grand Prix

Albon started 15th, finished 10th; Verstappen started 2nd, finished 2nd

While Verstappen took advantage of a penalty for Hamilton to split the Mercedes again, Albon collected a penalty of his own and finished a minute and a half behind his team mate. Questions over his future at the team were growing louder.

Alex is particularly sensitive to some of the characteristics of the car. And he’s struggling with that and they’re accentuated at this type of circuit with short corners and big braking zones.

Obviously there’s plenty to look at for him. In his second half of the race he recovered reasonably well but obviously it’s been a tough weekend for him. It’s a shame after the podium two weeks ago that this one has probably been one of the hardest of the year for him.
Christian Horner

Eifel Grand Prix

Alexander Albon, Red Bull, Nurburgring, 2020
Albon grappled with the AlphaTauris in Germany
Albon started 5th, did not finish; Verstappen started 3rd, finished 2nd

A forlorn radio message captured another low point in Albon’s season. He crossed swords with the AlphaTauri pair – both ex-Red Bull drivers – exclaiming “these guys race me so hard”.

Albon’s unnecessary chop across Daniil Kvyat caused contact and earned him a penalty. A first-lap lock-up had already spoiled his tyres, and his team called him in after spotting a problem with his power unit.

We had a big lock-up into turn three on the opening lap and our concern was that he’d gone pretty much through to the canvas and we were seeing vibrations increasing to the point that it was past our threshold. So from a safety point of view we had to pit him at that point.

He then started to make good progress back through the field but was very unlucky in that he picked up some debris that pierced a radiator on the cooling circuit and we just saw our temperatures starting to go sky-high. So before losing an engine we had no choice but to stop the car.

It was a shame in the race, I think he would have been racing Perez and Ricciardo even with that flat spot and the early stop. So it’s a shame for him not to see that come to fruition today because he’s had a pretty sensible weekend.

He was almost on the second row of the grid yesterday, a few hundredths of a second off that, he was a lot closer to his team mate than he was in Russia. So I think it’s a shame that he didn’t get a result out of today because I think there was more to come.
Christian Horner

Portuguese Grand Prix

Pierre Gasly, Alexander Albon, Autodromo do Algarve, 2020
There were no points for him in Portugal either
Albon started 6th, finished 12th; Verstappen started 3rd, finished 3rd

Both Red Bull drivers struggled on the slippery track at the start, but Albon was unable to recover to the points while Verstappen took his ninth podium from as many finishes.

By now it was known experienced racers Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg were on the market for 2021. Before the weekend began Horner had indicated Albon had two races to prove he deserved to stay in the car.

Obviously, it’s been a difficult race for him, so we need to look at all of the data, all of the information, try and understand why his tyre wear, for example, was significantly higher. So plenty to look at, plenty to understand and obviously he’ll need to bounce back in less than a week’s time.

The reality is there’s not so many races left in the season and it’s getting to that time of year where we need to start thinking about next year. Within the next few weeks we’re going to have to make a decision. So obviously, we know what all the options are.

You’ve got to look at all of the options. I don’t think we’d be doing our job if we didn’t look at the situation within Formula 1 that are obviously drivers that have got significant experience and ability – it’s a very unusual situation – that could be available.

Our first and foremost priority is to give Alex the opportunity to lay claim to that seat. Let’s not forget when he jumped in the car last year, he out-scored and out-performed Pierre significantly in the balance of 2019. So if we were to swap them back, why would it be any different?
Christian Horner

Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

Alexander Albon, Red Bull, Imola, 2020
A tough run continued at Imola, where he spun
Albon started 6th, finished 15th; Verstappen started 3rd, did not finish

After a tyre failure eliminated Verstappen, Red Bull’s frustration deepened as they called Albon into the pits too late during a Safety Car period, and he was forced to restart on old rubber. He was swamped by rivals and spun, ending the day point-less.

For Alex, it’s a difficult one because he was in a race with Charles [Leclerc] and Daniel all afternoon, stuck in a bit of a train, and then at the restart he tried to cover the cars behind who’d just had a free stop for new tyres under the Safety Car, and he lost it at the second chicane.
Christian Horner

Turkish Grand Prix

Albon started 4th, finished 7th; Verstappen started 2nd, finished 6th

Both Red Bull drivers – and quite a few of their rivals – spun in the incredibly slippery conditions at Istanbul. Having had each of their RB16s ahead of Hamilton for much of the early stages, Red Bull couldn’t keep him from another victory.

[Alex] was quicker than the two Racing Points ahead before also experiencing tyre issues and a spin which saw us pit him earlier than we would have liked and from there on both drivers were well down the order.

Bahrain Grand Prix

Alexander Albon, Red Bull, Bahrain International Circuit, 2020
Bahrain brought a valuable – if fortunate – podium
Albon started 4th, finished 3rd; Verstappen started 3rd, finished 2nd

With still no word on his destination for 2021, the final triple-header got off to an inauspicious start as Albon crashed in practice, causing what Horner called “a significant amount of damage.”

The race went better. Albon held a solid fourth, which became a second podium finish of the season when Perez – by now considered the favourite to replace him – retired with a point unit failure just four laps from home.

Alex drove a good race today. Sergio was unlucky. Alex benefited from his misfortune. That’s what we were needing to see from Alex. I think his recovery from Friday was strong. Obviously after the off that he had, he qualified fourth, he was there to capitalise on Sergio’s misfortune, he’s finished on the podium. It’s our first double podium since Japan 2017, it’s our first podium in Bahrain since 2013. So I think today’s been a good day for Alex.

I think no decision should be made until after the final race. With Alex we’re giving him every opportunity, we want him to succeed, I think we’ve been clear with that all along and days like today do help him with this. We’ve still got two further races and Sergio is doing the best job that he can to ensure that he remains under consideration. And today was Alex’s good fortune with that podium, Alex had a good day today and there’s still two further races to go.
Christian Horner

Sakhir Grand Prix

Albon started 12th, finished 6th; Verstappen started 3rd, did not finish

Having failed to make the cut for Q3 again, Albon salvaged points on Sunday, but like Monza this was an opportunity missed as Mercedes hit trouble and his team mate was out on lap one. And the biggest beneficiary was the driver eyeing his seat, Perez, who took an shock win for Racing Point.

Alex survived contact in the opening lap but struggled for pace in the initial stint. He pitted for the hard tyre which he seemed more comfortable on and we then took a bit of a risk under the last Safety Car to put the soft tyre on which he used to good effect to move up to sixth.
Christian Horner

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Alexander Albon, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2020
Albon signed off with one of his best drives yet in Abu Dhabi
Albon started 5th, finished 4th; Verstappen started 1st, finished 1st

The season finale was arguably Albon’s best drive of the year. He stayed within range of the (unusually subdued) Mercedes drivers, limiting their tactical options, as Verstappen chalked up his second win of the season.

We’ve always said that we’ll go to the end of the year and then make our decision at the end of the season. Alex had probably his strongest race weekend actually this weekend, which is encouraging for him. But we now have a full picture of the season. And we’ll make that decision in the coming days.

We have a huge amount of data now, we have all the knowledge across the various circuits that we’ve done and we’ll sit down and obviously go through that and come to the right conclusion.
Christian Horner

With more drives like this, Albon might well have kept his place at the team. However five days later Red Bull confirmed he would step back to the role of test and reserve driver for 2021, and Perez would replace him.

The team drew considerable criticism for ousting Gasly after just 12 races in 2019 (for comparison, here’s what the team said of each of his dozen starts for them last year). This time no one could argue their outgoing driver hadn’t had a fair crack of the whip.

Whether Albon, who only drove an F1 car for the first time in February last year, had been promoted to the top team too hastily to begin with, is another matter.

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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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48 comments on “Race-by-race: How Horner explained Albon’s route from near-winner to ex-driver”

  1. Gutted for Albon. Good (needed) decision from RedBull. Lets see how Perez fares against Max.

    1. Yes, if RB want to seriously take the fight then they need a driver within a couple of tens of VER.
      I don’t see PER outshining VER, but his tyre preservation skills could well turn out to be very useful to them.
      That is as long as he can qualify well. He wasn’t exactly stellar against OCO in 2018, who was well beaten by RIC this year.

  2. Very likeable chap so shame he’s completely out, but likely his reputation will be somewhat restored if the car is similarly difficult to drive and Perez don’t shine in it next year.

  3. They promoted him too early, having not driven an f1 car untill he joined torro rosso, being put up against verstappen half way through a debut season with that little experience was never going to help. Maybe kyviat (or hulk) should have had the rb seat instead, then with gasley & albon as team mates, horner et al could see which one is the better driver. As it stands now, as reserve driver, it will be difficult to get the experience he needs to gain confidence again

    1. Agreed, they should have brought Hulk earlier on. Right now, Gasly and Albon have major question marks around them. I know Gasly has redeemed himself but that doesn’t mean he’ll get another top seat as the question marks will always be in people’s minds.

  4. Expecting Pérez to be closer.

  5. Personally I’m glad he has been moved aside so that another driver can get the chance to prove themselves. Personally I never cared much for Albons “likeability”, to me he is a driver that just doesn’t have that ultimate pace. It was apparent in his junior career and the fact that he was let go by Red Bull some years ago. To his credit he has made some good overtaking moves. But overall just not good enough in my opinion. Not for a top team at least.

    1. The thing is that he shouldn’t have been in the position to make those moves in the first place…

  6. Good post, looking at it again, considering his experience looks like they are trying to find another “Verstappen “.

    Dropping him was in the end the right decision.

    I hope it makes his way back but with how cutthroat F1 is I won’t be surprised if he ends up in another series.

    1. Jose Lopes da Silva
      22nd December 2020, 15:35

      F1 has 17 seats to hundreds of candidates. It’s supposed to be cut-throat.

    2. They’re actually trying to find the next Vettel if you think about it – he’s the only tangible success from the RBR stable. Kvyat was brought in (too) early to try to get lightning to strike twice, then Verstappen, then (to a lesser extent) Gasly, and now Albon. Red Bull is a team that can make or break your career depending on when you get in with them.

  7. Fun. I rarely ever listen to the press-conference as I have this impression that there’s way too much PR speak to get through only to fish out what is usually nothing, but it was actually interesting to read through this and look for clues. I could almost tell he was getting a bit tired :) although that is probably me seeing it in hindsight.

    1. @minilemm The quoted words aren’t from press conferences or at least most of them aren’t IIRC.

      1. Ah well good to know then, cheers man

  8. I would have liked a bit more “how the race actually played out” to contrast that with some of what Horner says, but overally it solidly shows that Albon just did not make a big step up in consistency and pace to be rewarded with another season of driving in a podium contending, even winning, car.

    1. @bascb I was wondering if covid made things worse for him. With the season getting over in 5 months, Alex never got that opportunity to push the reset button, like a 5-week summer break could’ve allowed. I also feel like his struggles are partly a legacy of the fact that he was given just half a season at STR. I know RBR had an idea of Kvyat by then, but the senior team is not a finishing school, and taking a punt on Albon was never going to pay off. That it looked like it was going to with some of his race performances in late-2019 may have had something to do with the fact that the Red Bull improved their car post-Japan. Verstappen was P1 in quali in Mexico and Brazil, and they were miles ahead of Ferrari by the end of the season.

      Half a season in STR is a joke for someone who was never a megastar like Leclerc, Russell or Norris in junior formulae. This was Red Bull’s undoing ultimately. I’m glad they made the decision to pick an experienced hand for 2021, it should help them understand if there’s something fundamentally wrong with the Red Bull system or the cars themselves that since mid-2018 that seat has looked absolutely cursed.

      In a way it’s weird that the likes of Horner and Red Bull are able to get away with this blatant mis-management, while Ferrari are routinely made fun of for simply existing.

      1. Could well be that going on and on and on without much brakes in between made it harder to reflect, think and find his groove yeah @wsrgo.

        I’m sure this season will have had quite a big effect on everyone in F1.

  9. I think what may have been the nail in the coffin for Albon was the Eifel GP. That was the first race after they had indicated he had to perform in the next two races to convince them he deserved the 2021 seat, and then he proceeded to drive probably his worst race of the year (and took out a sister team’s driver from the points while doing so). I actually thought they retired his car because of how badly he was performing in that race.

    Then in the second of those crucial two races, he got lapped by Max and finished outside the points while Max got a podium. I think Red Bull were trying to see how he dealt with a bit of extra pressure by telling him he had to deliver in those races, and he completely crumbled.

    I feel like Marko and Horner made their decision after the Portugese GP and just didn’t tell him that he was being replaced until after the last race to try and extract the best possible performances from him in the remaining races, since he would have believed it would help his chances of staying on for 2021 when the reality was there was no chance of that.

    Having said that, I personally thought he was getting better at the end of the season, and was showing some signs of adjusting to the car, but his overall form for RBR seemed really patchy and inconsistent so it’s hard to tell if that was genuinely him improving or if there was another downturn in results coming up if they’d have kept him on.

    1. @t1redmonkey I thought the two-race ultimatum was for the Portimao/Imola double-header and that its introduction was precipitated by Albon’s performance in Germany.

  10. At silverstone, Albon looked super fast in practise, like he was at one in the car and his time at red bull was soon to be a success, then that confidence in the car seemed to disappear. I think ge has the skill level in him, but just cant get the car to do what is needed, and so had to be replaced. Basically wasnt fast enough.

  11. What are the options for Alex in 2022? If Perez can drive the bull right away (which seems unlikely), it would mean that he should go elsewhere? Or this means 2022 is Alpha Tauri or the street?

  12. RBR mistreated Albon. It was only his second year, and despite considerable misfortune and struggling with the notoriously unbalanced RB16, he showed considerable improvement and resilience.
    By the end of 2020, RBR finally worked out the RB16’s aero kinks and Albon came into his own in the last race. He took the fight to the Mercedes duo, hanging back as RBR instructed so that Hamilton couldn’t pit and allowing Verstappen to cruise to victory.
    Now RBR has given him the boot and hired 30 year old Perez, who will inherit a vastly improved RB16 that Albon was a genuine pig for. RBR wanted a young driver program, yet refused to nurture any of them. Albon is Horner’s latest casualty. Frankly, I’m done supporting RBR.

    1. Except that you are wrong and they didn’t mistreat AA. They gave him a chance and they worked with him and did everything they could for him.

    2. I’m on the ‘I believe they mistreated drivers’ side. You’re not the only one.

  13. If these opinions are Horner’s then it does show how biased he is when it is his drivers involved.
    When his drivers do the exact same thing others get penalised for, he blames the other drivers.
    Albon is definitely a competent driver, but he makes a lot of assumptions while overtaking sometimes that gets him into crashes.

    1. Remarkable a team leader that shows

      how biased he is

      Who would have expected that…..

  14. He should have been put back in Torro Rosso with Gasly. Really unfair decision with that Max specific car that Gasly couldn’t get to grips with either.

    1. @skipgamer Maybe he would be Gasly’s teammate starting next season if neither Tsunoda (nor Vips existed.)

  15. Kvyat, Gasly and Albon where all promoted to early to the Red Bull team and with the same result for all of them.

    1. @Sven I agree. JEV should’ve got the promotion for 2015 instead of Kvyat as he was ahead in the points and also more experienced at the time. In the Gasly-Albon situation, RB should’ve used the option they still had on Sainz instead of promoting Gasly after only a single full season of racing in F1.

      1. And that means Verstappen wouldn’t make his debut in 2015.

    2. I thought Kvyat was doing pretty well and was just a bit too aggressive at times.

  16. The entire decision making in Red Bull baffles me for years…

    • In 2013 Webber retired and they (rightfully) promoted Ricciardo alongside Vettel.
    • In 2014 Vettel left the team and instead of promoting Vergne who was mature enough (3 full seasons) and had similarly good performances alongside Ricciardo in Toro Rosso, they chose Kvyat and dropped Vergne.
    • In 2015 Kvyat looked good enough alongside Ricciardo. Meanwhile in Toro Rosso they had two brilliant young drivers that if they handled them properly, letting them mature, they could have made a killer 4-driver squad in the future.
    • In 2016 however, after 4 races (where he got a podium in China and he had a terrible race in Russia), they suddenly decided to drop Kvyat and replace him with Verstappen. Sure in hindsight it looked as a right decision, as Max won his first race, but they completely “bombed” their entire young-drivers program. Kvyat was a broken man after that, so he was kinda useless in Toro Rosso and they didn’t have anyone to replace him as i presume they planned to run a Sainz-Verstappen duo for 2-3 years before any new talents came to the spotlight. Meanwhile Max could have used another year or two in Toro Rosso maturing as a driver who wouldn’t crash as often as he did, once he joined Red Bull.
    • In 2018 Ricciardo left for Renault and instead of bringing in Sainz who was experienced enough, they chose Gasly, who although he had a good enough season, he was still too inexperienced.
    • In 2019 with their only ‘original’ young driver from their program (Albon was dropped from the RB Junior Team and rehired as they had a shortage of talents, Kvyat was dropped completely and rehired for the same reason) they completely lost faith in Gasly halfway through the season, because they promoted him too early, and they replaced him with then even more inexperienced (just half a season) Albon.
    • And in 2020, from the looks of it, they made a sensible decision, their first in a long time. They gave Albon an entire season to prove himself, unlike what they did with Gasly, and when he didn’t perform, they didn’t rush another even more inexperienced driver or a driver they dropped not a long time ago, but they chose someone outside their program who has proven himself.

    We usually criticise Mercedes for sticking with boring-Bottas instead of someone talented like Russell, Ferrari for their shambolic organization, but at least they change their drivers after careful thought, they don’t change them every year because they are incompetent to handle them properly.

    1. @black Well put everything. I couldn’t agree more.

    2. As I mentioned in another comment, they’re trying to recreate the glory days when Vettel was blitzing the championship. Bring in the youngest person they have on the roster and see if they’re Wunderkind 2.0. If not, drop them like a bad habit and bring on the next. But now, they’re basically out of people they can stick in the car, which means looking outside the stable (picking up Perez). The optics of their driver decisions are similar to when they make those go-for-broke pit strategies. When they work they look like heroes, when they don’t you shrug your shoulders and it falls into the background.

      1. Well the ‘new Vettel’ thing was probably true back in 2014-16 when they promoted Ricciardo, Kvyat and Verstappen in order to become again a championship winning team through their talent pool.
        But after Verstappen was promoted in 2016 (at the age of 18), Red Bull had their ‘new Vettel’ and since then, they are bending over backwards to find a ‘new Webber/Bottas’ to partner Max, not another wunderkind to usurp him.
        The ‘forced’ Ricciardo to leave after Baku 2018, they didn’t pick Sainz as he didn’t get along too well with Max, they demoted Gasly after just 12 races after he didn’t perform as expected.
        If they didn’t pick Perez, i wouldn’t be surprised if they picked Tsunoda for the RB seat right away, to start his career next to Max, having to prove himself within the first 5-10 races… until they drop him and pick another ‘promising’ talent…

        So far Ferrari seem like the make the most sensible changes in their line up, not sudden changes all at once (like RB) not sticking too long with meh drivers (like Merc with Bottas). Mercedes is the best team in terms of culture and team spirit and of course building a championship-winning car. And Red Bull probably have the best strategies and pit stops of them all.

        1. I would agree with your comment but you said that Ferrari doesn’t stick too long with meh drivers. if so what was Raikkonen doing there for so many years after Lotus?

          1. @nickthegreek
            You are somewhat right, Raikkonen definately wasn’t the fastest driver out there, but he didn’t underperform to the extent that Gasly or Albon did in RB, especially in 2017-18 when Ferrari challenged for the championships. You’d also have to take into account some factors on why they kept him:

            1) Until 2019, Vettel was the de facto No.1 in the team. He and Raikkonen had a great synergy as teammates – which is important as we’ve seen in McLaren with Norris & Sainz – they worked well together and they respected each other. So if they chose to replace him, they’d have to find another driver that would work well with Vettel and the team as Kimi did, which is easier said than done.
            Also the only other drivers that i can think of that they could have replaced him theoretically, are Perez, Bottas & Hulkenberg, none of them appeared at the time as a definative better replacement. After they lost the 2018 championship and lost a bit of faith in Vettel, and with a huge change in the top positions, they promoted Leclerc who as we’ve seen has not the same good relationship with Vettel as Kimi had.

            2) Kimi gave very good feedback. Very important if you’re looking to build a WDC/WCC challenging car, which Ferrari did in 2017 & 2018 (their best in the decade) under Kimi’s feedback.

            All in all, they kept Kimi until a suitable driver (from their young drivers program) arrived, and they honored Vettel’s 3-year contract until they chose to replace him with Sainz after they decided it was the best thing for the team. In retrospect, all of these changes seem understandable and logical to me.

    3. If only they never mistreated their drivers…

    4. @black Regarding your critique of RBR, it’s easy to do that from your armchair and with the luxury of 20/20 hindsight. If only RBR had a crystal ball that saw as clearly into the future as you have managed to claim in hindsight. Perhaps try putting yourself in their shoes as these decisions have had to be made, but pretend you don’t actually know the outcome ahead of time.

      1. @robbie there were signs that Red Bull was going to have problems down the line though, as there was a big gap in their recruitment programmes after they hired Max in 2014.

        If you look at their driver programme between 2014 and 2018, they had fewer drivers than normal and several who were only on their programme for a handful of months – and when you look at the drivers they picked, most of them were driving in either Formula 4 or Formula Renault 2.0 at the time.

        Because those drivers were in lower series, it meant that, even if Red Bull did keep backing them during that period, most of them would still take at least a couple of years to get enough experience for a superlicence – in fact, Gasly was their only active driver in their junior team who did manage to get a superlicence, and that didn’t occur until late 2017.

        There were already those who were commenting around 2016 about how Red Bull’s Junior Team had fewer drivers than normal and didn’t have anybody who could get a superlicence for a few years, so you could see that there were problems building up in the system.

        The loss of Sainz exposed those weaknesses, as they’d already promoted their last available driver, Gasly, to Toro Rosso – hence why they hurriedly turned to Brendon Hartley, who was basically one of their few former drivers who was both available and eligible for a superlicence.

        When Ricciardo left, that then left Red Bull scrambling a bit for a replacement – with uncertainty on where Vips would finish in Formula 3 and whether he might fall short, Albon was, quite literally, the last option left for Red Bull if they wanted either a current or former driver from their programme.

        I don’t think it is unreasonable to say that you could predict a problem was coming for Red Bull, and it does show in the way that Red Bull have responded by expanding their recruitment programme quite significantly from 2018 onwards.

  17. He seemed like a good guy but didn’t come across as a race car driver. He’s just too nice. Truly a gentleman but did not show the drive inside to provide Max the support the team desired. He’s a lost sole now and should plan another career. So sad but if you can’t cut it you don’t belong.

    1. Well, he was a gentleman off track but he definitely needed to slow down a bit especially around Lewis. Twice he screwed up and cost himself his best finishes.

      Like I said before, Lewis doesn’t like getting tangled up in silly accidents but, unlike Albon, he can afford to. Take the wide line, Albon. Take the wide line…

      The answer was always “the line is mine, it’s mine”. Sometimes you just have to listen to your inner winner voice.

  18. This is it now really. No more excuses from RBR about drivers. As an RBR and AA23 fan, its a win-win next season.

    If Perez can match Max we all get the glory fight we want as race fans. If he doesn’t, the problem doesn’t lie with the drivers but the overall team package.

    P4 should be an absolute minimum for Checo and if he doesn’t reach those levels, I for one cant wait for the likes of Paul di Resta et al to eat their words this year, because my lord, have I head enough of them this year, let alone on Social Media.

  19. What does Red Bull have against Hulk? It’s quite obvious that they’d rather leave F1 rather than have him drive one of their cars. I’m so curious to see how the next year unfolds.

  20. Albon was lucky to get all year, as kvyat and gasly are not going back to the big brother team.

    Signing Perez just highlights the failure of the RB driver program

  21. Excellent compilation. It actually highlights two very clear trends…pace deficit on Saturday resulting in low grid positions and the struggle since Spanish GP.

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