F1 Pundits Turn on Alex Albon, But For Once Red Bull Doesn’t
Alex Albon is fighting to save his career at Red Bull. Many Formula One pundits believe Albon isn’t fighting hard enough. After impressing in his first season with Red Bull satellite team, Alpha Tauri, Albon is struggling to produce consistent results for the senior team. Teammate Max Verstappen has resolutely routed Albon in every qualifying session and race they have finished. Albon’s qualifying pace in particular is in the spotlight because he is up to and often over 0.5 seconds off his teammate’s pace. Verstappen routinely qualifies third and on rare occasions second.
To be fair to Albon, he has only qualified outside the top 10 on three occasions during the 2020 season. But the expectations are that Albon should be consistently qualifying 4th because the Red Bull Honda is considered to be the second-best car on the grid. At least in Verstappen’s hands. The current Red Bull RB20 has a handling imbalance and is difficult to drive. However, Verstappen has adapted his driving style to extract maximum performance.
Verstappen’s performances show a difference in class between good drivers and the very best. Albon has not shown the same adaptability to adust his driving technique. And while he qualifies, on average, in 5th and 6th, he falls back during the races. While he could have won the Austrian Grand Prix at the start of the season, his race performances have been mixed and on the decline since finishing 3rd at the Tuscany Grand Prix.
Unusually Red Bull has encouragingly wrapped their arms around Albon instead of throwing him under the bus at the earliest opportunity. Red Bull is more like an extreme boot-camp for those who fail to meet their extraordinarily high demands. Their last victim was race winner Pierre Gasly, and the victim before him was Brendon Hartley who was treated like a dog. However, Albon has been given a rare extension by Red Bull to prove himself.
Red Bull will decide at the last race of the season if Albon continues into 2021. Meanwhile former F1 champion, Jacques Villeneuve, is leading F1 pundits in voicing his disapproval of Albon and believes the Thai driver’s position is being protected by Red Bull’s co-owner, the Thai billionaire Chaleo Yoovidhya. Villeneuve also believes that Yoovidhya is pressing Red Bull to keep faith with Albon. But 1997 F1 champ isn’t impressed and made his views known during a recent media interview.
Jacques Villeneuve on Alex Albon:
“He (Albon) is only there through his passport, because he [Thai owner] owns half of the company and that’s why he is protected. He’s getting worse, even though they keep trying to help him.”
“Albon is the worst second driver ever at Red Bull. However, he is protected by the team management and always gets the confidence, but he is certainly not of the level that a Red Bull driver should have.”