‘He just dialled himself in’ – Horner impressed by Albon on Red Bull debut
Switching teams in the middle of the season is no easy task, but Christian Horner was left impressed by Alex Albon’s recovery drive on his first outing for Red Bull.
Albon was always set for a challenging weekend at Spa-Francorchamps once Red Bull opted to take a grid penalty by fitting an upgraded Honda power unit, even though they ultimately didn’t race the new engine.
The penalty left Albon starting his first race since being promoted from Toro Rosso in 17th place, and he produced a strong recovery drive through the field in his new car, capping his fightback with an overtake on Sergio Perez on the final lap that required two wheels on the grass in order to secure fifth spot.
READ MORE: Albon says his car ‘came alive’ on Red Bull debut
“Alex has impressed me all weekend with his approach, his feedback, his pace,” Horner said. “In the race he did a very mature job. The first half of the race we weren’t quite as competitive on the harder tyre as we were on the softer tyre but he didn’t make any silly mistakes or take any silly risks. He just dialled himself in.
Alex’s moves on Ricciardo and Perez were impressive
“I said to him on the grid, ‘I think the car will come alive in the second half of the race’. It certainly did in the second half of the race. We know Daniel’s a tough racer – his move on Daniel, his move on Sergio on the last lap were impressive. To go from P17 to P5 was a very good start.”
While eyes were on Red Bull’s newest addition in Belgium, it wasn’t only Albon who caught Horner’s attention, with the team principal also happy with the response he saw from the man Albon replaced, as Pierre Gasly picked up two points for Toro Rosso in ninth place.
READ MORE: Gasly pleased to score points on Toro Rosso return on 'most emotional' day
“I think it was an encouraging start for him. Hopefully he’ll have a clean weekend with a straightforward qualifying in Monza. But certainly he’s made a very favourable impression with the engineering team and in the garage. Certainly a good start.
“Having spoken to Pierre over the weekend as well, he seems to have exactly the right frame of mind getting into the Toro Rosso. He recognises there’s still opportunities for him and he’s approaching it with the right mind-set.”