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‘It’s eye-watering’ – Albon shares the secrets of Verstappen’s unique driving style

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SPA, BELGIUM - AUGUST 30: Alexander Albon of Thailand and Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen of

Alex Albon has opened up about the time he spent alongside Max Verstappen at Red Bull and the key elements that make the reigning triple world champion’s driving style so unique.

Albon spent one-and-a-half seasons as Verstappen’s team mate after being promoted from Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri) midway through his debut 2019 campaign and retaining his place into 2020.

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However, having struggled to match the pace and consistency of the Dutchman across that period, Albon was demoted to a reserve driver role for 2021, prompting him to look elsewhere in his quest to rejoin the F1 grid.

In an appearance on the High Performance Podcast, co-hosted by former BBC F1 presenter Jake Humphrey, the now Williams driver looked back on his whirlwind stint at Red Bull and highlighted exactly what makes Verstappen tick.

“The first thing is, a lot of people say that car is built around him, he’s kind of like the Michael Schumacher of Ferrari, he’s created this team around him,” began Albon as he discussed what it was like to be Verstappen’s team mate.

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Albon was promoted to the senior Red Bull team just 12 races into his F1 career

“Truthfully, the car is what it is, he is very quick, so what ends up happening is… He has quite a unique driving style, it’s not that easy to get along with.

“Everyone has a driving style, I would say my driving style is a bit more on the smooth side, but I like a car that has a good front-end, so quite sharp, quite direct. Max does too, but his level of sharp and direct is a whole different level – it’s eye-wateringly sharp.

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“To give people kind of maybe an explanation of what that might feel like, if you bump up the sensitivity [on a computer game] completely to the max and you move that mouse and it’s just darting across the screen everywhere, that’s kind of how it feels. It becomes so sharp that it makes you a little bit tense.”

Albon went on to explain that, as a season wears on and car developments arrive, a “snowball” effect is created and adds even more pressure to the driver in the opposite car to Verstappen.

“What ended up happening was, especially during my year, you start off being a little bit behind, but not by much, and then as the season goes on, Max wants this front-end in the car, he wants his car to be sharper, sharper,” the Thai-British racer commented.

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“As it goes sharper and sharper, he goes quicker and quicker, and for you to catch up you have to start taking a little bit more risk. You might be a couple of tenths behind one session, just try a little bit more, ‘OK, I’ve gone off, I’ve had a crash’, and you’ve got to restart.

“Then you’ve lost a little bit of confidence, it takes a little bit more time, that gap is growing a little bit, and the next time you try and go out and do another job, [it’s] another spin or another whatever – it just starts to snowball. Every time the car becomes sharper and sharper, you start to become more tense.

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“It’s like any sport, if you start to not be in that flow state, and you’re having to really think about it, and every time you go into a corner, you don’t know how it’s going to react, you don’t have that kind of… It’s purely the confidence in the car, the flow. It doesn’t work, it never works.”

Since their spell as team mates, Verstappen has notched up three F1 world titles on the bounce, edging out Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton in 2021 and dominating in 2022 and 2023, while Albon has reignited his career at Williams, guiding the team to a P7 finish in this year’s constructors’ standings.

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