Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Circuit of the Americas, 2019

Keeping Albon was the “smartest” decision for Red Bull, says Verstappen

2019 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by and

Max Verstappen has backed Red Bull’s decision to keep Alexander Albon as his team mate for the 2020 F1 season.

The team announced this week Albon, who replaced Pierre Gasly in their line-up during the summer break, would be retained for next year.

Verstappen said he supports the move. “He’s a nice guy,” he said, “and I think for him the last 12 months has been a bit of a rollercoaster.

“Of course he’s very laid-back, very relaxed. And people like him in the team. He’s easygoing, which I think helps. And he’s quick, he’s doing his job, he’s getting the points. So I think it was the smartest way of continuing.”

However Verstappen said he played no role in the decision to keep Albon in the team. “At the end of the day it’s not up to me, of course, to judge his performance. It’s Christian and Helmut, of course, who make the decisions.”

Verstappen lies fourth in the championship with two races remaining, and could beat Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc, third, and Sebastian Vettel, fifth, to third place in the points.

“We’ll try,” he said. “We lost a lot of points in the few races after the summer break. But we’ll definitely try to go for it, I think it’s still a nice target.

“It’s still quite a few points but of course, with Charles having the penalty here it’s hopefully a good opportunity to close that a bit and then have an exciting final race weekend.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2019 F1 season

Browse all 2019 F1 season articles

Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

10 comments on “Keeping Albon was the “smartest” decision for Red Bull, says Verstappen”

  1. Two races left both titles decided no team orders no trying to preserve the car, it’s all about honor and ego now.

  2. If this was Hamilton talking about Mercedes keeping Bottas, people will already said he only want a slower and obedient no 2.

    On serious note, I don’t think it’s the smartest decision for RBR. The smartest one is to get Kvyat if they want to stick with RB junior driver list. Or pick other more promising driver, which admittedly not many right now (I don’t believe Hulk is best for RBR). Maybe Vandoorne.

    Albon is not quick enough yet IMO. He is better than Gasly in RBR but still a distance no 6 in top 3 team drivers, which means for RBR to fight with Mercedes or Ferrari, he’s still expected to finish “last” everytime, except not losing further points finishing outside top 6 like Gasly did. Kvyat, at least shown he can capitalize RBR better in his days and fight for podium positions. Albon and Gasly just still need more experience in STR first.

    1. Whilst it’s hard to argue with your logic, I think we all need to remember it’s his first year in F1.

      The fact that he matched Max in qualifying in Japan, ran easily at Leclerc & Vettels pace in the race after that is encouraging. Had he not been clobbered by Sainz in the US, I suspect he may have been 4th and a lot closer to Max so I think he’s got the potential to finish higher than he has.

      Definitely not a Max at this stage but I believe he’ll improve for 2020.

      1. @dbradock I do consider that this is still his rookie year, which exactly why I think he should stay in STR in 2020. He definitely going to improve, but will it be enough to actually compete for 4th place in WDC (essentially the wingman championship)? That still a tough order.

        I think many people have clouded judgement on Albon performance because of Gasly, which works benefits him a lot. Next year if he a guaranteed 6th on every race, it’ll actually looks bad instead of “he’s better than Gasly” like this year. I don’t say he won’t be RBR material, I think he will truly earn the seat in the future, but most likely not 2020.

        1. @sonicslv @dbradock Firstly, some of this conversation is moot, as indeed it will be Albon not Kvyat at RBR next year. So they’ve already made what they think is the smartest move for them. After all, they know more than anyone what they have in Kvyat and what they have in Albon, and I’m speaking about aspects of their talents and personalities within the team that we couldn’t know about without being a fly on the wall.

          I think Albon is ready, and I think what will really solidify that is that he now knows what he is doing next year, and he will be stoked about it, and he will have the off-season and the pre-season to ‘become one’ with his car. It should only be onward and upward for him, starting this weekend.

          Furthermore, from RBR’s perspective they will not be thinking of him as hopefully competing for 4th in the WDC. Their mindset will be that they want to produce the best car, the WCC car, and Max and Alex will be shutting out the competition and maintaining 1-2’s ala Mercedes in the hybrid era. Not saying I expect that to happen, but I hope for it, and I have no doubt RBR and their drivers will be striving for it…not for 4ths. So not only are they confident in AA for what he is doing now, they are confident in him if the car gets much better relative to the others. And let’s face it, the closer one is to having the WCC car, the fewer cars one has to pass on the track, the higher one’s chances of achieving big points and shutting out the competition etc etc.

          Anyhoo…the plan is set. It’s MV and AA in the best RBR/Honda car the team can muster for 2020. It’s going to be a blast.

          1. @Robbie We’re commentating as fans to RBR announcement. We knew the contract already signed and it won’t change, we’re not that naïve you know? It commenting like this is moot, then by that logic no one should ever commenting on any announcement or even controversial steward decisions, since those are moot as well.

            Anyway, I agree RBR (and all team) would want to compete and win the WDC and WCC, with both driver competitive and hopefully also finish 1-2 in WDC. However, let’s be realistic. Assume RBR, Ferrari, and Mercedes in on equal footing in 2020, where in your educated guess (or if you have to bet substantial amount of money if you don’t have problem with gambling for fun) Albon will finished? If Albon and Kvyat are in the same Red Bull, who do you think more likely to perform better in 2020?

          2. @robbie I very definitely agree that there would be loads of information that we’re not privy to about how drivers interact within a team, how good their feedback is an even how controlled they are in their cars.

            I’d suggest that this too has probably played a part in RBR’s decision making. And yes I’d expect them to be aiming for 1, 2 in races, so the pressure will be on Alex.

            Like you I’m looking forward to next year.

          3. @sonicslv Fair enough about my use of the word moot, but I just used it because I think they did make the smarter move, as did they think so, and so there’s no point speculating that someone else would be better. But yeah, I do get that you’re just backing an opinion, fair comment.

            As to your questions, I think that on equal footing for sure AA has not yet had the experience the others on the top teams have, and he would lag behind them I would expect. But of course it is also going to come down to his comfort and confidence level in car. The ideal scenario of 1-2’s for RBR, rather than equal footing, would presume AA would have a car fitting him quite nicely, as for Max too of course. The car is so much of it of course. I don’t see Kvyat doing more with the car than Albon, in that I don’t think either would dent the top 5 other drivers in the other top 5 cars, on equal footing. It would take for the RBRs to dominate for that to happen, which of course supports how much it is the car. WDCers need the WCC car, almost always. Ie. we’ll just have to see the level of their car next year.

          4. @Robbie Well I think our main difference is I rated Kvyat higher than Albon for 2020. But this is my opinion and it’s fair for you to disagree and having different opinion.

            Assuming equal footing so we can throw the car is better “excuse”, I’d believe Kvyat can do more and possibly steal a podium or two on merit. I find Kvyat RBR run is better than Gasly or Albon, it just Helmut and/or Horner need to sacrifice him for Max. My main suspicion the reason they skip Kvyat twice (for Albon and picking up Gasly this year while it’s more apparent last year that Kvyat is better to fill the second RBR seat) is because Marko / Horner pride. Picking Kvyat will be admitting a mistake they’ve made dropping him twice (from RBR and STR), especially if Kvyat 2nd Red Bull run turn out to be pretty successful.

            But now, the pressure is on Albon. This year, he got it pretty easy if you think about it. As long as he always finished ahead F1.5, he’d be seen as better than Gasly. Any big gap to Max can and will be attributed to switching teams mid-season, plus being a rookie. Next year, all of those easy excuses are gone. I’ll predict people judgement on him will be harsher and even if he stays on this level, some people might think he failed (unless Max did dumb thing and have less points).

          5. @sonicslv Yeah that’s fair comment. I lean towards Albon as the better choice for them as they are the ones living it, and know internally what they have in AA vs DK. They must see more potential in the as yet unproven AA.

            Your last paragraph…I agree. He’ll not have the luxury of a rookie having been moved mid-season, but what bodes well for him is just that too…he’ll have a season under him and will spend the off-season and the pre-season testing, with RBR. For sure the pressure will be greater and that’s what separates the men from the boys, no? Handling pressure. So he can (and must) look at this as an exciting opportunity to show he can handle the pressure. Max is one tough benchmark to meet.

Comments are closed.