Red Bull: Mexican GP performance proves 'Albon is stepping up'
Although Max Verstappen made headlines over the weekend, there was another strong performance from Red Bull team mate Alex Albon that caught the eye of his boss, Christian Horner.
Albon started from fifth on the grid in Mexico, one place behind Verstappen, but emerged from Turn 3 as the lead Red Bull as he ran in third place while Verstappen tangled with Lewis Hamilton. After holding station for the first stint and staying close to the Ferraris ahead, Albon pitted early as part of a two-stop strategy and eventually finished fifth as the top three all stopped once.
“It was pretty decent,” Horner said of Albon’s drive. “I’m not sure he would have held the third place, he had Lewis behind him and Lewis looked a bit quicker. It probably would have been difficult to keep Leclerc behind as well.
“I think he’s getting closer and closer to the pace, he’s generally doing a pretty decent job and he’s stepping up and stepping up. Considering he lost pretty much all of P2, I think his recovery has been very strong.”
While Charles Leclerc also dropped from first to fourth on a two-stop strategy, Horner defended the Red Bull call to pit Albon and fit another set of medium tyres, committing to two stops.
“I think going into the race you could see most teams were thinking it was probably going to be a two-stop based on all the deg we saw on Friday. We had the chance of an undercut on Lewis to put him under pressure. We went for it, Carlos Sainz wasn’t particularly helpful on his out lap, and Leclerc from the lead went for the same strategy. But as more laps went on it became clear that the tyre deg was looking pretty decent.
“Even though the drivers were commenting, I think when they were following closely it felt like the tyres were overheating and degrading, the reality was they weren’t really wearing, they were just getting hot. With 20:20 hindsight what we should have done is put the hard tyre on at the first stop and then we would have had the option to do a two-stop or a one-stop.
“It was discussed, but we felt that at that point in time the fastest race for us was an aggressive two [stop].”
A first podium still awaits Albon, but Horner praised the 23-year-old’s approach after he continued a run of finishing in the top six in every race since joining Red Bull.
“He’s impressed the whole team with his performance to date, and each weekend he’s progressing, he’s getting stronger.
“Alex has scored more points than Max since the summer break, which you never would have expected. I think Alex is doing a very good job considering it’s his first year in Formula 1. He’s getting stronger and stronger, he works very hard, he has good feedback in the car and I think he’s impressed the whole team with his attitude and application.”