Alexander Albon, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2020

Albon: No need for panic over gap to Verstappen

2020 F1 season

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Alexander Albon says he isn’t concerned over the gap in performance between him and team mate Max Verstappen on the strength of the first two races of the season.

Verstappen was over 40 seconds ahead of Albon at one stage in Sunday’s race. Albon admitted he had problems managing his tyre degradation over the race’s opening stint.

“It was one kind of poor start to the race in race two and that was more or less the main issue,” said Albon. “So I don’t think there needs to be a panic.

“It’s just managing the tyres a bit better and knowing when to push, when not to push. That’s more or less it at the moment. I think once I get a bit more comfortable with a car the pace will come as well.”

Albon, who was promoted to Red Bull from Toro Rosso last year, said he doesn’t feel any added pressure to demonstrate his capabilities now he’s in a front-running car.

“It’s still the same,” he said. “Formula 1 is Formula 1, every driver is under pressure to perform.

“Of course I know I’ve got to do a good job, but it’s been like that since I’ve been eight years old so nothing really changes.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said last week he was pleased with Albon’s performance in the second half of the race after his problems at the start.

“Alex had a race of two halves,” he said. “The first half he was struggling and then the second half I thought he drove well and his pace was good. So we need to understand that with him and hopefully help him get more comfortable with the car on the heavy fuel because his pace in the second half of the race was strong.

“He fought very well with Perez who was the fastest car on the circuit at that stage, three or four four tenths quicker than Bottas who had the freshest tyres. So I thought Alex did drive a good race, particularly the second half.”

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32 comments on “Albon: No need for panic over gap to Verstappen”

  1. That is the most hilarious thing an RBR driver can say!

    Also as even Horner already commented the situation, means he has around 2-4 races left unless he somehow greatly improves.

    He can only be saved by the fact RBR doesn’t have anyone to replace him with.
    Welcome back Hallenberg?

    1. Correction for autocorrection – Hulkenberg

  2. Dazed Peacock
    16th July 2020, 16:33

    Don’t you just love it how Albon conveniently steers away from the fact that he is just as much slower in qualifying as he is in races? You really can’t just say it’s just about tyre management if your teammate destroys you in every session where speed matters, whether it’s long run or one lap pace. What’s particularly disappointing is that the gap is about the same it’s always been, and he isn’t exactly a rookie anymore. Maybe the explanation is simply that Vestappen is much better at this whole driving thing?

  3. I hope Christian actually believes this and not be hasty with driver movements.

    1. @rockgod I’m confident that CH is truly well pleased with relative rookie AA going back to how well he did in those last 9 races of last year. And Max is one mega-driver to which to be compared and Horner knows to keep that in perspective.

    2. @rockgod And Helmut even more so. Changing him to either one of the AlphaTaur-drivers during this truncated season wouldn’t necessarily be as ideal as during a ‘normal’ season, or automatically guarantee the desired outcome as there’s always both pros and cons with these things.

  4. “I think once I get a bit more comfortable with a car the pace will come as well.” – How much time does he need? A few races towards the end of last season, pre-season testing and 2 full race weekends. If he hasn’t found the limit by now then he’s never going to. He’s found his limit and its not good enough to be in a RedBull. I never understand this “I need to get used to the car” nonesene. These are top drivers who should be able to find the limit within hours, not need months and months of simulator and race experience. Everyone goes out and pushes 100% in qualifying, if you don’t go as fast as your team mate then that’s on you, not the car. He’s put himself in two clumsy positions which have cost him podium finishes and when Max is racing he’s always well off the pace. RedBull need a strong backup to Verstappen, not someone who has to fight to finish 5th in the 2nd best car.

    1. @Tom Well, he’s done better than Gasly managed over the first twelve 2019-events. I’m not worried about him.

      1. geoffgroom44 (@)
        16th July 2020, 19:51

        I’m with you Jere.As for ‘putting himself in 2 clumsy positions’ it seems the line between amazing driving and clumsiness is very hard to define for you,Tom. A F1 career best finish in 4th – 17 seconds ahead of his nearest rival and behind 3 considerably more experienced drivers is..well..pretty good in my book.

        1. @geoffgroom44

          It’s not hard tho is it? He was on the outside and would know what was going to happen. The roles were reversed on the opening lap sand Hamilton backed out because he’s not a rookie.

          Yes, 4th, 17 seconds ahead of a driver with no front wing because he’d taken it off and 11 seconds behind Max, who’d also had an extra 20+ second pit stop… wow, what a result.

    2. Tom clearly you just don’t like AA and you’re conveniently ignoring that he has had 11 races only with RBR so far. You’re making it sound like he should just simply be on pace with mighty Max by now, like he can just snap his fingers and make that happen. Max is special for one thing, and AA has every right to have more time with his car and his crew to keep sorting things out. He was often close to Max’s pace last year as a rookie. With your line of thinking half the current grid probably shouldn’t be in F1.

      1. @robbie I’m not ignoring anything. He’s had 11 race weekends plus simulator sessions and testing. He’s got hundreds of hours experience by now and he claims he’s still not comfortable with the car. Why? How can you have so much experience yet be so slow? Top drivers change cars all the time and are still quick. Regulations change, aero rules change, tyres change and you have to be able to adapt and be quick out of the box. Every year drivers get a new car so it can’t take multiple races before they get up to speed or they’ll never win a Championship.

        You say he was close to max last year, but he really wasn’t. In qualifying he was always 0.5+ slower than a Max. Except Japan where they set the same laptime. So that’s one good result in those 11 race weekends you mentioned. RedBull have the second best car this year and he needs to be fighting for podiums. So far he’s qualified 5th and 7th (both again more than 0.5 away from Max)

        I have nothing against him, I watched some of his YouTube gaming with Norris and Leclerc during lockdown and he seems a very funny and friendly guy. I’m just telling it like it is. If he can’t get much closer to Max then he’ll be dropped like Kvyat and Gasly.

    3. @Tom
      I think quite clearly the car has been designed around Max Verstappen, then adapted to suit Albon. Let’s say Verstappen prefers a “pointier” car while Albon favours mild understeer. Obviously the core philosophy of the car will be one of oversteer, which Albons engineers will have to try and tweak to get slightly understeery, never truly getting into his comfort zone. Years of muscle memory tuned to an undsteering car, he will now have to forget and retrain himself. All while settling in to a sport which he’s only been in a year, switching teams half way through. He’s probably only just beginning to settle in to Red Bull, let alone he car.

      If you honestly think that drivers can jump into a car and be 100% on the limit then, quite frankly, you’re deluded. Hamilton, the driver with the most pole positions of any driver, ever, fairly recently said that he had never driven a perfect lap. Ever. The guy with 14 years experience, the most pole positions of any driver ever, second most wins and championships (both of which he could equal or surpass this year), has never had a perfect lap. Yet you are saying Albon should be driving perfectly in hours?

      1. It’s not delusional thou is it @minnis

        Drivers get a new car each year. What about when there’s a regulation change? The car would feel a million times different to the year before but you don’t see top drivers struggling to adapt. You need a quick natural pace in F1. You just can’t take multiple events to get up to speed.

        Hamilton might have said that about himself but when you’re 1.2 faster than everyone else and still not happy with the lap then you’re such a perfectionist that you’ll never achieve it. Maybe that’s how he’s become so good? By constantly seeing where he can improve and then adapting and becoming better. I don’t expect perfection from Albon, just being within half of a second of his team mate would be acceptable…

      2. Tom I think you are not telling it like it is, but rather like you choose to see it. For starters you’re giving AA, and by extension other drivers, no time to learn the car and how to set it up for their particular likings. With Max they have tons more data and he far more time to gel with the team, such that of course he’s going to have the upper hand vs a relative rookie, never mind he’s a superstar in progress.

        Bottom line, you’re being way too impatient with AA, and I assume other drivers for which you would ascribe the same level of ‘incompetence.’ I think you are not appreciating how hard F1 is. And that should be the way you should want it, no? Don’t you want these drivers performing great feats? If they were able to just ‘get on it’ in the relative short order as you think, then I think F1 would be way to easy and therefore much less enthralling to watch.

        1. But how much time do you want to give him @robbie ? I don’t think 11 races to show zero improvement is being impatient at all. He’s always been 0.5 a lap off Max and he still is. He’s just had his best result and that included a battle with Perez who should have been no where near him and finishing 11 seconds behind his team mate who had an extra pit stop.

          How do you explain Verstappen being able to win in his first race for RedBull? Or the other drivers who are much closer to their team mates week in week out. When Max went to RedBull he was off the pace of Ricciardo and making mistakes which I’d expect. The point is that within three races he was starting to close the gap and within 6 he’d outqualified Ricciardo. That’s what I’d expect to see! A driver showing clear signs of improvement after a few events. I think 11 races is more than enough to be comfortable and start improving. But he’s still qualifying 5th and 7th in the second best car. Maybe after another 11 races he’ll find a tenth.

          1. How much time? That’s going to be up to AA and RBR who will be supporting him all year to do their very best together, race by race. That’s all they need to know for now, and all you need to worry about. You’re far more stressed about this than RBR and AA themselves are. Zero improvement? That’s your rhetoric and not how Horner is thinking of this at all. To your point about theoretically always lagging half a second behind, we know that is not always the case, not nearly, however, if we were to assume fairly safely that Max is progressing on his side with his crew, then if ‘all’ Albon is doing is keeping up, then that’s pretty darn good. They’ll work at getting him more and more comfortable with the balance as diligently as they will for Max.

            How to explain Max winning his first race with them? Partly luck, partly that their car was very strong that day at that track, and partly because Max is a phenom and a very high bar to have to hit especially for a relative rookie. If you were expecting AA to be matching Max by now, or match Max’s pace of career success, then you are way way underestimating Max.

            Think I’m starting to repeat myself so I think I’ve made my position clear.

  5. Could it be that the updates that Verstappen first gets to try are also aimed at giving better tire life?

    1. @faulty Which updates are those? I’m curious.

      1. As far as the public knows, Verstappen was given a new front wing and a new floor. I wouldn’t be surprised if Red Bull were also developing something to counter Mercedes’ DAS and it was put on Verstappen car’s first.

    2. the front wing was for Max but because he is a much better with data comparing with the old one. Not that the wing was much faster and i am not sure if Albon is so technical saffie as Max.

    3. Albon and Max had the same car at the Styrian GP I believe

  6. geoffgroom44 (@)
    16th July 2020, 19:53

    I really, really hope this next race AA gets on the podium.I think it is well deserved and would be great for F1,especially now CL is unlikely to be a serious challenge at the front.

    1. That would be awesome for sure.

    2. I disagree that it would be deserved. It’ll be deserved when he shows he’s good enough to finish in the top 3. He doesn’t deserve it just because he’s in a RedBull, he needs to prove he’s good enough first. Wish him all the best but when his first podium comes it’ll be due to unreliability of Bottas, Hamilton or Verstappen. I doubt he’ll ever beat those on pure pace.

      1. Tom he showed that last year when LH took him out, and again this year, same thing, by the same driver, but then of course his car failed ultimately. LH robbed him twice, despite AA’s unreliability of race one. AA should have had two podiums by now. He was there on pace. Name a driver on the grid today that would beat LH, VB, or Max in AA’s car. One with the same experience as AA, to be fair. Your perspective is out of whack.

        1. @robbie No you are wrong he needs alot to go his way and a few compounds of softer tyres. Not once as he sniffed a podium on genuine pace. Of course in a chatoic race and the 2nd fastest car he can get achance but still no cigar. This guy is Jolyon Palmer level infact he is probably worst he spent yrs in GP2. Anything to prop Max up lol

      2. geoffgroom44 (@)
        17th July 2020, 10:05

        well,Tom, applying your logic, no-one, other than LH,VB and MV deserves anything.Your arguments apply to just about all the rest, including Ferrari drivers.
        As for being good enough, well I’ll go with the judgement of Christian Horner and the Red Bull management who,I am sure,would never have put AA in their car without understanding his potential.
        But I get it, logic has little place in your argument,huh?

  7. Albon is delusional. He is not concerned?! I would be if i was him. If he is not then he dont deserve that seat. He should be stressing, worried and looking to see where he is losing soo much time to his partner. He shouldn’t be putting on a brave face he should be showing a very concerned face. He wont be in that seat for long if he doesnt change his game.

    1. What do you expect him to say?

      The pressure is hard to handle. I know Red Bull can throw me out any time this year.

  8. Plus he needs to work on his passing skills and defensive skills. He was crashed out due to accidents on track whether or not his fault he needs to be alot more spacially aware.

  9. the fact that Alex is such a nice guy clouds people’s judgement.
    He’s been rubbish. last year when there were 3 teams in contention he’s always finished last of the best. ALWAYS! Never fighting with anyone… when’s the last time he was near Charles, Vettel or Max? he’s just way off the pace.
    Albon is not a top driver, yet, at least. he’s been rushed into a role he can’t fill. He has no business driving for a top team.
    Gasly and Kvyat both had podiums last year, think about that for a minute. Kvyat was replaced at Red Bull after 3 races even though he had finished 3rd in a race!
    Sure Albon could of had a podium twice… but only because of safety cars at the end of the race, and Red Bull being straight on with their strategy, putting him on the clearly faster tier in both occasions. And he still didn’t convert.
    And sure Max is a top driver, but he’s no monster. no way in hell he’s almost a second ahead in every qualifying because he’s so talented, it’s because Albon is under performing.
    big chance this is Albon’s last year in F1. depends a lot on what Kvyat is doing, so far he doesn’t seem himself.

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