Albon losing his Red Bull drive shows how cruel F1 can be – Norris

2021 F1 season

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Lando Norris predicts Alexander Albon will “fight back” after losing his Formula 1 drive with Red Bull at the end of last year.

“I rate Alex very highly and respect him a lot and it’s a shame that he lost his drive,” said Norris during McLaren launch event in response to a question from RaceFans. “But I’m sure he’ll fight back for it and try and be back in Formula 1 again in the future.”

The pair made their grand prix debuts in 2019 after racing together in Formula 2. Norris said Red Bull’s decision to drop Albon at the end of last year showed F1 can be a “cruel world” for drivers.

“I’m good friends with Alex, he’s a good friend of mine,” said Norris. “We get along very well. We have good chats and so on.

“I’ve not really spoken to him, to be honest, that much about what’s been going on or things like that. I feel a bit sorry because I know he’s a very good driver and it’s tough.

“It just highlights really how tough Formula 1 is that you can be an extremely good driver and beat almost everyone that you’ve ever raced against in all the categories. But you get to Formula 1 and it becomes that little bit more competitive. It’s a cruel world sometimes. It can be over almost as quickly as it started.”

Norris, who is going into his third season in Formula 1, is joined by new team mate Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren this year. Norris scored his first podium finish in 2020 and is confident his team see the progress he has made since his debut.

Lando Norris, McLaren, Yas Marina, 2020
Norris took fifth behind Albon in season finale
“I do my best and the people who can know that more than anyone are the people I work with. My engineers, the managers, whoever, they know the effort and the time spent and basically what I’m good enough in and what I’m not good enough in.

“Sometimes it’s difficult for other the people to know, whether it’s people just watching on TV, it’s very easy to pick up different perspectives or things that you think someone isn’t doing well enough in, when you don’t always know the reason.

“Last year I was very happy with how I did. There was things for me to improve but on the whole, it was a much better season compared to year one. There were certain parts of the season where they were particularly good – one of them was the last race, for instance.

“So I’m happy but I know I’ve got things to work on and I’ve got things to improve and that’s only going to help me and motivate me to keep improving. Also working alongside Daniel will help me become a better driver, too.”

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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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27 comments on “Albon losing his Red Bull drive shows how cruel F1 can be – Norris”

  1. Yes, F1 can be cruel, and it is harsh on Albon that he is out of F1 completely. He deserves another go with Alpha Tauri in 2022 if Gasly leaves, as he was no worse than Gasly in Red Bull. However, getting rid of him from Red Bull was the right decision. Aside from one decent race in Abu Dhabi, he was
    going backwards; he was not making progress, and it was killing his career. This is the best scenario for both parties (if he does return in 2022 for Alpha Tauri).

    1. @f1frog Cruel indeed! I can’t help but wonder had Albon exercised better judgment in the 2 tangles with Hamilton, if the season would have unfolded in a different way.

      I can’t wait to watch Red Bull – they’re the team to watch next season!

    2. @f1frog He’s unlikely to get a chance in the B-team because of Red Bull’s academy drivers in F2, one of which already holds a super license. For the same reason, Gasly doesn’t have a great chance of staying in the team beyond this year. Either a repromotion to RBR or a team other than the two Red Bull-owned ones for him next year.
      Here are my predictions for next year’s Red Bull team lineups: (note that at this point, I don’t take into account the possibility of VER moving to Mercedes should HAM not continue beyond next season).
      2022 Red Bull Racing and Alpha Tauri line ups:
      RBR: VER-PER
      AT: TSU-VIP/DAR/LAW (depending on who finishes the highest in F2 this year)
      RBR: VER-GAS
      AT: TSU-VIP/DAR/LAW
      RBR: VER-TSU
      AT: GAS-VIP or VIP-DAR/LAW (this is the only scenario in which I could see even Gasly having any chance of still being at AT).

      1. I disagree. I definitely don’t think Gasly would be kicked out of AT, unless Tsunoda clearly outclasses him, which I don’t think will happen. But I think he might leave by choice. If this does happen, Juri Vips is the only junior who I think might get a promotion next year. Liam Lawson will not be ready (unless he does a brilliant job in F2, like Tsunoda who I wouldn’t have considered a possibility for promotion this time last year), and I don’t think Jehan Daruvala is good enough for F1. Therefore, if Gasly leaves and none of the three juniors are title contenders in F2 (I don’t think they will be, except maybe Vips), then I think Albon will be given a reprieve. I may be wrong, and Lawson, Vips or Daruvala may dominate F2 and get a promotion, but I don’t see it happening personally.

        1. @f1frog Daruvala or Lawson, if either one of them would win the championship, as in this case, they couldn’t continue in F2 since the champion driver isn’t allowed by the rules. I specifically imply the likelihood by their order, i.e., I believe in Vips the most. Daruvala will start his second full season in F2, so he’s got a slight advantage over the other two in this regard, but Vips has the advantage of already holding a super license, so all he needs to do is perform well and finish high. No pressure on the SL side for him in the form of a minimum championship position requirement. If none of them were to get promoted to F1, even if they’d fully justify a promotion from F2 through their performance and results, one could question the point of having a driver program and investing in drivers. Red Bull was in a position where they lacked super license-eligible drivers or proper candidates for it. Kvyat, Albon, and Hartley got another chance solely because of this. As for Gasly: He’s too good for a team of Alpha Tauri’s level in the long-term and would only block drivers coming through the lower categories, so a bit out of his control and relatively low chances for him, unless either all three sucked this year or Red Bull decided to promote Tsunoda to the senior team after only a single season of racing in F1 (in case, they saw something similar in him that they saw in Max back in the day, although I doubt this would happen. Red Bull has been quite unpredictable with their drivers, though, so you never know.) These are my predictions on what might happen with the two Red Bull teams’ lineups for next year, but, of course, only time will tell.

  2. Yes, to a degree. F1 can be pretty cruel, like when a JEV loses a seat at Toro Rosso because they have two hot rookies coming in. How Stroll ousted an Ocon from his seat at Force India, or how a Vettel going to AM almost caused Perez to exit F1. Those are examples of drivers that ultimately didn’t put a foot wrong and yet still ended up losing their seats to other drivers.

    But Albon isn’t an example of this, I feel. He did get 1,5 season to prove himself. He got public support from the management throughout, they changed his race engineer, they really put in an effort to try and make it work with and for Albon. But at the end of the day, the performances they needed weren’t there. And when you step up to a big team like that, they really have to be. I can’t say he lost his seat through any misfortune, he really did end up losing that drive himself through subpar performance. It is what it is.

    1. Grosjean got something like 10 seasons in F1 without anything to show for it, while Albon had an impressive rookie season but couldn’t keep up with one of the fastest drivers on the grid in his second season.

      1. Was it really that impressive? The late season Red Bull he stepped into for 2019 was a long way ahead of the midfield pack, so he could be qualifying well off the pace of those around him and still be ahead of the midfield drivers thanks to that performance advantage. The more objective statistical analysis of his performance suggested he was very heavily flattered by that advantage and really wasn’t that great when the car advantage was taken into account.

        There is also the fact that Gasly did just as well at Toro Rosso as Albon did – if he was considered to be performing badly enough to be demoted, but the driver replacing him wasn’t any better, doesn’t that raise the question of whether Albon really was that good?

    2. You said it all.
      In 5 years, people will be saying how Amazing Albon was and was ousted unfairly… Short memories

  3. F1 is Cruel to those who don’t cut it.

    F1 is Cruel to those who pretend to be more than they are.

    F1 is Cruel to those who get caught up from the mistakes of others.

    F1 is Cruel to drivers at the ends of their careers when a kid with talent and money
    is invited into the paddock

    F1 is Cruel but F1 is also many other things too.

    Most though are the good experiences, new memory’s created, many lives changed, experiences rewarding to all are certainly the opposite of cruel.

    So a part of Formula One is cruel ness and as to when it strikes and who it impacts is the mystery of life.

    I was stunned by the death of Villenueve in 1982. Cruel impacted me then as how stunned I was from losing my F1 hero.

    F1 is cruel and it also impacts fans too.

    Glad it only shows itself when it does

    1. Hey you, care to explain me the “Solid Link” comment you said last week?

      1. Yes.
        It comes from the TV Show from the 60s call the Mod Squad. The black character actor who said little but let his actions speak with clarity always responded when things were good by saying “Solid Link”.
        We in turn said it to our parents who didn’t get it and with friends back in school. When I see something that is done well or something of that nature my response is “Solid Link”……that and five bucks will get you a cup of coffee.

        1. That’s what I needed.

  4. I still think he was judged unfairly. The guy had no experience with F1 machinery before joining Toro Rosso and even then was parachuted in at the last minute, and halfway through his rookie season he switches teams to a frontrunning car alongside a guy widely considered to be one of the current best. He gets one full season with one team who openly admit his car was made of bits and pieces, has some unlucky races where he could have grabbed podiums or a win and really was not far off a much more experienced Gasly in the same vehicle. Given the guy’s extreme inexperience and total lack of learning time or patience I think he did pretty well, and deserved to be around a lot longer. Certainly promoted to a frontrunning car too early but was nowhere near as bad as he was attacked for, and certainly didn’t deserve his F1 career to be over in just two seasons.

    1. @rocketpanda If anything he was better than Gasly at Redbull, certainly at getting through the mdifield. Gasly had loads of highs last year though and was far more impressive than Albon in a slower car. The qually gap was way too big and i hate when people bring up how he could have won Brazil and Austria. There is one big thing in them races more tyre wear and a safety car, he has never come close to challenging the front guys without a huge bit of help. May aswell Kubica deserved another year vs Russel seeing as he was out for long. Albon was not even that impressive in F2 either. He is Jolyon Palmer level talent, do you Jolyon still on the grid?

  5. They ‘‘raced him too hard’

    1. Ahah, so true, embarassing.

  6. Once Max leaves Red Bull for a step-up and Pierre leaves AlphaTauri by choice for another team, Alex can get it back.

  7. The RB16 didn’t suit him, but then adaptability should have been better, shouldn’t it. Seems that’s the big differentiator when it comes down to it.

    For sure in an easy to drive car he would be much closer, so tough luck in a way. Also bad luck to lose the podium / win in Austria. Then bad luck again when the team wanted a driver with knowledge of Mercedes engine for their new engine project.

  8. Is F1 really cruel.? If so, are they any different than many other sporting “careers” that so many aspire to.? In North America, and in all other parts of the world, there are amateur sports that act as feeders to all manner of professional leagues. If we take one small example, amateur Hockey, you have tens of thousands of kids playing for fun and that whisper of an opportunity to get to the pros.
    Out of those tens of thousands, a small number will make it to a semi pro league and by the time they discover that the professional dream is out of reach, one can only hope that they received an education that will give them some form of a future. Many don’t.
    Yes, most professional sports are brutal in their selection and abandonment of those aspiring to succeed. Alex A. was able to accomplish more than the vast majority of those getting into racing. Is it cruel or just a refection of the F1 process of only advancing the best of the best of the best.?
    Will he be back, I fully expect he will and probably stronger for the experience, but he is going to have to beat and displace some other aspiring future great. Is that too cruel? It is certainly reality.

  9. Something I’ve noticed since his F3 days, but Alex Albon may be the most well-liked driver among his peers I’ve ever seen. Charles, George, and Lando have all made many public statements supporting him, from his days struggling to find a ride in F2, to struggling alongside Max at RBR.

    1. They are friends outside the F1 that helps a lot. But Max doesn’t support him (he likes him) as Alex was too far behind to help him.
      Being liked doesn’t mean that you deserve a spot in F1 life is hard it truly it’s!

  10. There are occasionally drivers who lose the seat and didn’t deserve that, hulkenberg comes to mind, perez also if he hadn’t managed to jump to red bull, albon out of red bull and vettel out of ferrari aren’t some of those.

    In fact the one who performed best lately at red bull after vers and ricciardo was kvyat, albon wasn’t any more impressive than gasly, which was terrible, albon just had a better first season, but going backwards is inadmissible in f1, there’s a saying in this sport that if you stand still you’re going backwards, it’s referred to always improving the car during the off season, and his 2nd season at red bull was just far worse than the first.

    He’s definitely good enough to fight in the midfield, but he was so terrible (and honestly didn’t like the attitude either, they race me so hard, 6th was the best we could achieve today in the race where perez won, and so on) that I don’t mind him being out.

    1. So terrible at red bull*

    2. Gasly is very good but when he joined RBR he made a few mistakes (crashing 1 day) during the testweek which destroyed his confidence and he never recovered after that.

  11. Are these comments about Albon a pre-cursor to the challenges Norris will face this year at McLaren?

    Going up against Ricciardo this year will be a proper test for him. Ricciardo is a race winner and is better than Sainz. If the new guy in year 1 with the team outperforms Norris over the course of the year, Lando might be viewed differently by the end of 2021.

    1. Need to ask Lando this question.
      My bet is that he, like any other hyper-competitive F1 driver, will say .. “Bring it on. Doubt, what’s that.?”
      The two of them will likely get along just fine and both will be successful.

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