Toro Rosso's Kvyat and Albon reflect on ‘fun’ intra-team battle
Toro Rosso maintained their record of taking points at every Hungarian Grand Prix since 2014 on Sunday, as Alex Albon came home 10th for the Italian team. But for a brief moment, it looked like the squad’s race was on the verge of ending in disaster, as Albon and team mate Daniil Kvyat enjoyed a knife-edge battle early on in the Grand Prix.
On Lap 19, the two Toro Rossos were circulating around each other in 12th and 13th when Kvyat lunged down the inside of his team mate into Turn 1. The Russian looked to have the move done, but Albon switched back and nosed ahead on the run down to Turn 2. The Thai driver then braved it around the outside of that corner, Kvyat leaving just enough room for both cars before Albon robustly consigned Kvyat to the Turn 3 run-off.
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Unfazed, Kvyat recovered, and as Albon then tried to hang on around the outside of Turn 4, the Russian returned the ‘off-track’ favour to Albon – a move that played out almost identically to Lewis Hamilton’s failed attempt to pass Max Verstappen for the lead on Lap 39 – before definitively moving ahead. It had been aggressive enough to leave the Toro Rosso mechanics with their hands over their mouths as they sat and watched in the garage. But Albon claimed after the race that the tussle had just been “good fun” – and his team mate agreed.
“It was good,” said Kvyat after the race. “It was a fun battle. I managed to overtake him. Very good, good fun, very close I think.”
Albon would later move back ahead of his team mate in the closing stages of the race, as Kvyat, who’d pitted for hard tyres seven laps earlier than Albon on Lap 21, struggled to eke out the life of his rubber, eventually finishing 15th. For Albon, though, the battling wasn’t over, and as he swept past Sergio Perez’s Racing Point for 10th place (and the last racing point!) into Turn 1 on Lap 64, the Mexican appeared to turn into Albon’s STR14, with the two cars making contact.
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“We had the run on him,” said Albon. “He left us space on the inside so I went for it and then he closed the space – but to be honest, he still gave me enough space. So I thought the move was done – and then he turned into the apex when I was next to him! We had a bit of a clatter, but nothing serious. It’s kind of the thing where you come out of the corner and you’re like, ‘I hope my steering’s straight’ and it was, so it was okay!”
Albon’s solitary point moves him just one behind Renault’s 14th-placed Nico Hulkenberg in the drivers’ standings – with Kvyat up in P8, having more than doubled his points tally with his sensational third place in Germany – and Albon confirmed that he was pleased with how his rookie F1 season was unfolding heading into the summer break.
“I’m happy with how it’s gone,” he said. “I still want more. I feel like there were a couple of races where we deserved a few more points.
“[But Helmut Marko, Red Bull’s motorsport advisor] doesn’t speak to me that much – which normally [is] a good thing!”