Sochi layout 'accentuated' Albon's issues with RB16 says Red Bull boss Horner
Red Bull came away from the Russian Grand Prix pleased with their best-ever result at the event – second for Max Verstappen – but Alex Albon’s race contrasted heavily, with Team Principal Christian Horner putting the Thai driver's 10th-place finish down to the difficult characteristics of the RB16 around the Sochi Autodrom.
Albon could only qualify 10th and had to start 15th thanks to a gearbox penalty – and it was clearly going to be a far longer Sunday than at Mugello, where he scored his first career podium. Horner explained why he struggled in Russia.
“I think that Alex is particularly sensitive to some of the characteristics of the car,” he said. “He’s struggling with that and they’re accentuated at this type of circuit with short corners and big braking zones. Obviously, plenty to look at for him.
“[In the] second half of the race he recovered reasonably well, but obviously it has been a tough weekend for him. So a shame after the podium two weeks ago that this one has probably been one of the hardest of the year for him.”
Red Bull are working on making the car a bit more pliable in Albon’s hands, perhaps eliminating some of the more uncooperative aspects of the RB16 so that he can compete on the same or a similar level to his team mate Verstappen.
“I think we’ve understood some of the issues that we’ve got with the car and obviously are working hard to address those. Hopefully in the remaining races we should be able to I hope take steps that will improve the car in that area,” added Horner.
Albon therefore scored just one point in Russia and admitted it was a frustrating race at Sochi. He started on hard tyres, swapped to mediums on Lap 1 during the Safety Car period and climbed steadily up the order from the back. However, he was trounced by a fresh-tyred Pierre Gasly of AlphaTauri for P9 in the final stages of the Grand Prix as he was immersed in a battle with McLaren's Lando Norris.
“Today was a lot of work for one point and it wasn’t an easy race - we struggled at the beginning to overtake and get through the pack on the hard tyre and so we lost a lot of time,” said Albon. "When we swapped to the mediums it was a little better and we did as much as we could, but it was difficult out there and a frustrating race.
“After the gearbox penalty, today was about damage limitation and now I’m already focusing on Germany and having a cleaner weekend in two weeks’ time.”