Alexander Albon, Red Bull, Hungaroring, 2020

Albon is “being made to look an idiot” at Red Bull – Russell

2020 Hungarian Grand Prix

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George Russell defended Alexander Albon after the Williams driver out-qualified his Red Bull rival at the Hungaroring.

Russell beat Albon to 12th place by 17 thousandths of a second as both were eliminated in Q2. Albon’s team mate Verstappen made it into Q3 comfortably, lapping over seven-tenths of a second quicker than the other Red Bull.

However Russell, a long-time rival of Albon, doesn’t believe this is a fair reflection of his driving.

“I’ve known Alex for the last 15 years, been in the same paddock as him, he’s one of the best drivers we all race,” Russell told Sky. “Max, Charles [Leclerc], all of us will say, he’s always been at the front in everything he’s done. And I don’t know what the hell is going on.

“I feel really, really bad for him because he’s being made to look like an idiot and he’s absolutely not. He’s won in everything he’s done. So I don’t know what’s going on but they need to sort it out for him.”

Albon revealed his frustration in a radio message immediately after he failed to reach Q3. “Sorry guys but I told you, I told you, just don’t put me in traffic,” he said.

Speaking afterwards, Albon said traffic hadn’t been his only problem during qualifying.

“It was a bit of everything,” he said. “Obviously, I didn’t do a great lap as well. But we had another lap to kind of fix it.

“It’s a few things, to be honest. So I just need to speak to the team and discuss it just to be better prepared for next time.”

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Keith Collantine
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60 comments on “Albon is “being made to look an idiot” at Red Bull – Russell”

  1. Time is ticking away…. Alex.
    Go speak with them, otherwise it will be too late.

    Though I have never heard speaking made you faster by a second…

  2. MaxBull is always going to be a bad choice for any driver not named Max

    1. I’m more or less a Max fan, but there’s an element of truth in that. Not the same really at other teams. Even a much liked and proven winner for them, Ricciardo, was made to feel superfluous. Red Bull have a serious problem in dealing with this ‘second berth’. It’s why I think someone like Vettel or even Alonso would be good for them. It needs some gravitas and power base to make demands on the team to counterbalance the Max factor. And they really do need another driver close to MV to maximize team performance (and his own: he’s constantly exposed to other teams being able to use two drivers to force Red Bull’s hand in tyre strategy for instance). Otherwise I can’t really see any end to them churning through younger drivers. Unless they change their team attitude radically.

      1. Very much agree with you here.

        MV is a great driver but there needs to be a reassessment of this extremely short evaluation period they seem to have in place. I also wonder how AA’s car can be so far off pace. Alexander has been open that he knows he needs to be better but when I look at the last race and how he was 40 seconds behind his teammate it’s hard not to wonder how the performance gap on the cars can be so huge.

        1. @treize131 Well just look at Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer gaps when tey were teammates that may give you a good idea. Albon spent the full 4 yrs in GP2 he aint that good simple.

          1. dan, I think you must have misread his career statistics, as Albon did not spend four years in GP2 or Formula 2 – he has competed in a grand total of two Formula 2 seasons, which were in 2017 for ART and 2018 for DAMS.

      2. Perez is the ideal choice in the current situation.

      3. @david-br I disagree that DR was made to feel superfluous. I think that is rhetoric. Folks around here happily claim to me how DR ‘beat’ Max when they raced together until their last season together when DR made what he described as his toughest decision at the time to go to Renault. Until the very moment it happened Max and Horner and the team had fully expected DR was going to stay with them and they were very surprised when he didn’t. Does that sound like a driver who had been marginalized on the team? A driver that was ‘beating’ Max? Ok that was in points not performance due to Max’s mistakes handing points to DR, but still…DR’s performance was there in obviously equal equipment.

        To hear them say they fully support Max does not automatically mean they couldn’t care less about their other driver. Yeah it’s a tough setting for a driver when his teammate is a megastar, but that’s just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. Of course RBR are going to fully support Max…they fully support his teammates too. But when one driver just shines and stands out…

        So, change the team attitude? Well they tried to keep DR but he chose to leave. Now they are trying with their in-house talent Gasly and now AA. You say they should have a proven WDC beside Max now. Is that what you would say for LH too? That is what TW should do for the team? Or for LH? Ferrari shouldn’t have let SV go then? CL needs a WDCer beside him? No but at RBR the Max factor needs counterbalancing? Lol.

        I think the ‘only’ thing they need is for Honda to keep upping their game while they sort out the handling issues with this car. As Brundle says, the performance is there, they just haven’t figured out how to extract it consistently yet.

        1. Hi @robbie You know I enjoy a good argument with you! Obviously only Ricciardo can know what he really felt about MV arriving. Clearly DR was in two minds, he said as much in interview afterwards, and admitted he eventually just took a ‘plunge’ decision. All of that to me speaks of uncertainty and emotional volatility, trying to use ‘gut instinct’ in a situation where he was deeply split, not because of the unsure future at Renault, but because part of him really wanted to stay and it actually made career sense to remain at RBR. So was it just the money and/or the success of the Hamilton to Mercedes move (which he quoted) that influenced him? Or the signs that Red Bull had found their driver for the future and really weren’t bothered if Ricciardo stayed or went? Or the feeling that MV would constantly beat him (despite evidence that they were fairly close in performance)?The back history is Webber and Vettel at Red Bull, when MW complained of clear favouritism as we know. And even the way DR ‘ousted’ Vettel from RBR. It’s not difficult to imagine that he was imagining the same was now happening with him. This isn’t any kind of criticism of MV or even implying he was favoured. I’m talking about Red Bull (especially the top management) over-signalling their excitement about MV, in part, maybe, to stop him going elsewhere.

        2. I have an opinion
          19th July 2020, 1:50

          You want to know when I knew it was over for Ricciardo at Red Bull? It was long before Baku. It was the year of the Monaco Grand Prix when the television feed surveyed the Red Bull Energy Station. The Energy Station had a huge picture of Verstappen’s face plastered in the middle. And off to one side… a picture of Ricciardo’s face less than half the size.

        3. @robbie

          …when DR made what he described as his toughest decision at the time to go to Renault. Until the very moment it happened Max and Horner and the team had fully expected DR was going to stay with them and they were very surprised when he didn’t. Does that sound like a driver who had been marginalized on the team?

          Yes. They assumed ricciardo had nowhere else to go so they thought they could make him do anything they wanted and treat him any way they wanted and he could not leave. Probably gave him really low salary offer as well. Then he actually left. Surprise?

          Red bull has always been selectively supportive with their treatment with their drivers. The actual hardware has been the same but the people side and mental support has been totally different. Vettel and webber both had the same equipment most of the time but clearly marko and horner always sided with vettel when things happened. Same with max and ricciardo. Max always got the pat on the back and the support and the benefit of the doubt. Even when it was blatantly clear max or vettel was in the wrong. It was instant support to their favourite driver regardless of evidence. That kind of support is fine when it is your drivers vs driver in other team but choosing sides in such public manner when it is your two drivers having an issue is just incredibly divisive and harmful.

          That is one definition of being marginalized. Maybe marko and horner genuinely believe supporting one driver in this way over the other gives them the best results. It did not work out with ricciardo for sure. Albon nor gasly have never been near max for there to even be possible issues but if there were I’m sure they’d instantly support max no matter what happened.

  3. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    18th July 2020, 16:01

    Those three of Russell, Albon & Norris seem like such great guys and seem pretty good friends. It’s weird to see that in F1 where everything usually is about rivalry and dragging each other down but they seem to genuinely elevate and stick up for each other.

    1. Agreed @rocketpanda. Makes me wonder how much of these comments apply to Gasly when he was in Red Bull.

    2. geoffgroom44 (@)
      19th July 2020, 10:38


  4. A nice gesture from Russell. Red Bull is obviously tailored to Verstappen’s needs and their job on the new car wasn’t the best, was it.

  5. Albon again with a huge gap behind Max. The more this occurs, it may give the impression that Red Bull make their car more biased towards Verstappen’s style. We do not know if this is true though. Red Bull need to find a way to improve things for Albon. I just find it hard to believe that Albon and Gasly are/have been this slow compared to Verstappen. They need to sort this out if they want to fight for any championships. They cannot have one driver challenging for the top 3 positions, while the other is like 20+ seconds behind in a race or 6 tenths slower on a track where the laptime is just 75 seconds.

    1. The car has seemed very snappy for a few seasons now, you even see Verstappen dropping it fairly often. I think probably the difference between Verstappen and Gasly/Albon is he can get away with leaving a smaller margin of error, which increases the time difference compared to say Hamilton and Bottas, where the car seems pretty consistent so they can push much closer to the limit.

    2. The car doesn’t suit Max either so there is a error somewhere which makes the car undriveablefor Max and Albon.

    3. @krichelle I do not think it is necessarily a case of building a car for Verstappen, though one thing that Red Bull did state during the 2019 season was that the most experienced engineers and mechanics were being allocated to Verstappen.

      If a similar policy is in place for this season, it might not be so much of a case of a car being built for Verstappen as a case of the team members he is working with are able to set the car up in such a way for Verstappen to extract more performance from it.

    4. Gasly was faster in a Toro Rosso than in a Red Bull last year. That pretty much explains everything. The problem is the team itself, anyone they put there will be slower than Verstapen. They need a experienced driver, not a number 1 and a number 2 driver.

      1. Well, that’s not possible in all years though, ricciardo was comparing pretty well to verstappen, he wasn’t faster when vers reached his peak but definitely wasn’t 1 sec behind, which means they don’t slow down the number 2 every year.

        It also makes no racing sense btw.

  6. The way I see it, when Max can be struggling as he has today, then of course it is going to be even harder for AA. That he was put in traffic which obviously is the last thing AA needed with an already unsettled car, only means to me that they made a mistake this time that can be corrected. As to the car though, yeah they obviously haven’t learned enough about this car yet to find ideal setups…for either driver. Nose to the grindstone all around for RBR.

    1. Russel hit the nail on the head. Red Bull need to sort what ever is wrong for Albon. Its not as if albon who raced with verstappen over the years now suddenly is intimidated by ver. Theres aomething not right wiith the car he is driving. As someone pointed out perhaps the car is suited for for max.

      1. For sure, Max is incredible and he is also a ‘veteran’ on the team so the car is going to suit him better, combined with him driving it, making it look like it is built ‘for Max.’ I think there are degrees of ways to think of it though, and to me it is as I just said, an understandable comfort level Max has that AA couldn’t unless he was their veteran of the last 5 seasons. But I get no sense that the car is so focused for Max that AA will never be able to get close. This isn’t MS/Ferrari.

        1. And I don’t see why some of you, without proof are so convinced schumacher was being favored.

          As far as I saw it he was strong enough compared to his team mates to beat them comfortably without help, and so does verstappen.

          1. I don’t see why some of you, without proof are so convinced schumacher was being favored

            @esploratore you’re being sarcastic right?

            I followed schumacher and I could see it plainly. I saw a clip of the Ferrari garage during a race one time where one of their cars had a mechanical issue, and the mechanics thought it was the “other car” and you should have seen how they bolted into action once they realised that it was Michael’s car. Also just look at how well Irvine was suddenly able to do in 1999, when Ferrari threw all their resources behind him after Schumacher was sidelined following his leg break

      2. Red bull want the youngest champion and want a pr driver. They will do what ever they can to make max look amazing

    2. The way I see it

      @robbie if you took off those orange tinted glasses you may see things a little clearer.

      1. I’m pretty clear in my opinion that they are not intentionally hanging AA out to dry as too many seem to think. Why would they? To what end? Because Max needs the help of a handcuffed teammate? Because they are fighting for the WDC? Because they don’t care to place as high as possible in the Constructors?

        1. @robbie

          I don’t think people believe its intentional. Just that they couldn’t careless Sorting out how the no.2 adapts to a car allegedly built for Max.

          They just hope whoever gets to drive ‘Max’s’ car hits the ground running.

        2. @robbie

          Because they don’t care to place as high as possible in the Constructors?

          It would appear not. It was only a few short yrs ago Marko made the announcement that RB was going to build the team around Verstappen, the following yr DR left.
          Gasly who was performing well at Torro Rosso crashed and burned at RB, I’m not saying Verstappen is not better but the disparity was huge and did not represent Gasly’s ability imo. Last yr Albon at first was performing well this yr the gap is substantial, so has Albon forgotten how to drive? Or is it that input into the development of the car favours one driver over the other?
          There is another possibility though, when DR left I commented that RB would miss him as an experienced driver helping to develop the car. Maybe that could be a contributing factor, maybe they lack the input of a very fast competitive rival to MV to get a more balanced and competitive car. Either or RB are not in the running so far this yr. McLaren, Ferrari and RP are not going to stand still Merc is on top the rest are fighting for the 3rd step.

    3. I don’t understand how a car can be built for a specific driver in mind. You just build the fastest thing you can, you hand it over to the drivers and you listen to their feedback to set it up.

      In the end Albon and Verstappen have the same car underneath them.

      1. They don’t, that’s the whole point of the discussion.

      2. Cars are developed built with input from the driver. Teams have history of listening more to their lead drivers and having the car match their driving style. Look at Schumacher’s years in Ferrari and Alonso’s at Renault.

  7. Albon will be another Gasly and Kvyat. Soon to be kicked out of Red bull. Lando, Russel and Ocon are the more talented young drivers.

    1. well I will put Leclerc in your list instead of Ocon, as Ocon is older with less results than even Stroll ….

    2. geoffgroom44 (@)
      19th July 2020, 10:44

      You did read this article before commenting,yes? Especially what Russell said“I’ve known Alex for the last 15 years, been in the same paddock as him, he’s one of the best drivers we all race,” Russell told Sky. “Max, Charles [Leclerc], all of us will say, he’s always been at the front in everything he’s done. And I don’t know what the hell is going on”.
      So,respectfully, I bow to the opinion of other drivers who compete with AA on the question of the level of his talent.

  8. Well, didn’t fare too bad. If Max is 7th, he should be 8th, as Red Bull expects him only to be a shadow of Verstappen and nothing more.

  9. As I said in 2018 RB would miss Ricciardo, he seen the writing on the wall and made his choice. Now they’re left with team Verstappen, very fast driver but no room for others, three good drivers have been hung out to dry so MV can be top dog. Now they appear to have a difficult car and a short season and no experienced driver to sort out the issues.

  10. I feel really bad for Albon. You know it has to be the most stressful job, being team mate to Max, knowing that Red Bull could just change their mind about you at any second and replace you with another driver. The less confident he feels, the more mistakes he’ll make… he’s starting to get caught in that trap that Gasly/Kvyat fell into. He’s clearly fast but moving to Red Bull was not a good move for him.

  11. I’m pretty sure they only have two cars because they have to. It’s like Red Bull see a second driver as a necessary burden.

    1. @zapski – well said!

      1. @zapski It’s only like that for those who choose to see it that way. You wouldn’t possibly say this of MV/DR prior to DR leaving. And for a driver/car that is just a necessary burden, well, he had a podium or a win in his grasp the other weekend until LH took him out. Yeah then the car failed him but on performance the car was there for him and AA was on it. Yeah what a burden to have to deal with.

  12. Red bull are like 90% focused on max his teammates get what ever is left. If you think someone that reaches f1 is capable of being a sec slower then the teammate in equal machinery you are clueless.

    1. If you think it is always one second and always will be then you are clueless. On a day when the alleged 90% focus on Max has him 7th and slower than last year? They obviously have equal machinery or Max wouldn’t be having the same issues as AA. That he is more engrained in the team and a mega driver is just the way it is.

  13. Russell delivers on track and off track. What’s he made of?

  14. I suspect and maybe it’s more obvious but the team, the car is centered around Max.
    It’s starting to look a bit more obvious as more races and more teammates pass through
    Maybe it’s the environment as well that is more suited to Max but something tells me if Albon were to go back to AlphaTauri he’d perform better (accounting for the difference in cars)
    I share the same sentiment with the above comments that the car is suited to Max more
    Waiting on RedBull to say it’s not as a standard procedure

  15. I can’t recall a driver dismissing his own achievements to stand for a rival. Wow. Never. This is 50’s 60’s stuff. Russell you absolute legend.
    On Max and RB, maybe Max is one of these drivers that develops something only they can drive, perhaps accidentally.

    1. He’s just playing politics for Toto … orders from his ultimate boss.

  16. It might have been George’s mouth moving, but it was Toto’s words.
    Always the politician … and puppeteer. A Bernie-esque manipulator in the making …

  17. They are so busy looking after Verstappen that they’ve forgotten to apply the same attention to Albon. I think this was similar to what happened with Gasly

  18. I think the title of this article doesn’t reflect what rusell said. no respect for him.

  19. And to think they could have had Alonso putting the car up there every weekend bagging a whole load of points and some podiums, but instead prioritize ‘good feelings’ among staff, and Marko’s ego with his young driver program.

    F1 is just not the tough guy’s sport one would imagine. Results comes second to sensitivities.

  20. geoffgroom44 (@)
    19th July 2020, 10:56

    I have no doubts, no doubts, that Alex is going to prove many ‘negative’ commentators wrong before long. Whilst it makes for good copywriting or soundbite stimulus to constantly juggle facts to suit the argument, certain truths remain constant.The guy has talent.The guy has a pretty good record.The guy is a winner….so just be patient whilst the issues get sorted out. It just might be that 13th is a good start position as Alex has shown on a number of occasions, he can fight back. (Belgium 2019, China 2019).
    It is fairly understandable that most teams are going to experiment and move things around in their attempts to get anywhere near the superlative Lewis and the Merc team. Now I am a committed LH fan and have been for years….and of all the young racers that have come along in those years, I keep a close and respectful watch on ‘the smiler’, Alex Albon.

  21. Horner and Marko being exposed.

  22. Alex is too a nice guy for a team like RBR. For the better or for the worse, Verstappen’s personality and RBR’s company culture match perfectly. Almost everyone else is simply shredded by their Machiavellian culture. If that works for them, fine but I feel sorry for all the potential talent RBR has tainted with their way of (not) nurturing their junior drivers.

  23. geoffgroom44 (@)
    20th July 2020, 9:19

    In 3 laps went up 5 places in yesterday’s race. that’s 3 laps.Finished 5th. I am reading: top 6 finishes in 10 out of 12 starts.
    as for the ‘tough RBR culture’ I don’t see that being a problem for ‘the smiler’, he’ll just laugh that off.
    Please note: he finished 5th yesterday and everyone below 5th….was lapped by the winner !
    So I guess ‘the smiler’ had a big grin under his mask yesterday.

  24. geoffgroom44 (@)
    20th July 2020, 9:21

    ooops. I meant to say…in the first 3 laps he charged up 5 places

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