Red Bull to give Albon ‘best opportunity’ to retain his seat, not planning Gasly swap
From the moment Pierre Gasly clinched a shock first Grand Prix victory in last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, speculation has swirled as to whether that breakthrough win would earn him a recall to Red Bull. However, Team Principal Christian Horner has moved to quash such talk, insisting their focus is to give Alex Albon the “best opportunity” to retain his seat…
Red Bull demoted Gasly to Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri) from the senior team last summer, moving then-rookie Albon in the other direction. But rather than letting his head drop, Gasly delivered a string of strong results, including a first podium with second place in Brazil last year, followed by his incredible, opportunistic win in Monza last weekend.
In contrast, Albon has struggled to match team mate Max Verstappen’s pace, particularly in qualifying, and has delivered considerably fewer points. However, Horner and Red Bull Motorsport Adviser Helmut Marko have consistently backed the Thai driver, both publicly and privately. And after Gasly’s victory last weekend, Horner made the team’s position clear once more at the Friday press conference in Mugello.
“As far as Red Bull Racing’s seats are concerned, we are focused on Alex Albon,” he said. “We want to try and give him the best opportunity to retain that seat. We’ve got some issues we’re working on with the car and I think that it wouldn’t make sense to switch the drivers back.
“AlphaTauri is now a sister team rather than a junior team; Franz [Tost, Team Principal] is happy, I believe, with Pierre so the final decision will be made later in the year. But there’s no push from our side to reverse the situation."
Horner was also asked about Sergio Perez, who is now on the market after he announced he will part ways with Racing Point at the end of the season. The Red Bull boss said it remained their “intention” to use drivers from their junior programme and only look elsewhere if the selection isn’t strong enough.
“Our preference has always been to nurture talent and whether that’s Sebastian Vettel, whether that’s Daniel Ricciardo, whether that’s Max Verstappen - they’ve all come through the junior programme and have been schooled by Franz and then they’ve obviously delivered very well in a Red Bull Racing seat.
“So our preference is always in that homegrown talent, but if the pool isn’t big enough then of course occasionally you have to look outside of it. But our intention is absolutely to work with the talent pool that we have.”
Red Bull have a number of junior drivers in the tiers below F1, including Yuki Tsunoda, the Honda-backed F2 racewinner, currently fourth in the championship standings.