Alexander Albon believes he closed the gap to teammate Max Verstappen in terms of race pace during the Italian Grand Prix weekend.
Red Bull opted to promote Albon from Toro Rosso over the summer break, with Pierre Gasly moving in the other direction. In Belgium, Albon started from the back while Verstappen retired on the opening lap, and then in Italy it was Verstappen taking a grid penalty that limited him to eighth in the race. With the new recruit starting from eighth and finishing sixth after a five-second time penalty it was a tough weekend for Red Bull, but Albon saw positives in how his pace compared to his teammate.
“The start wasn’t great and I lost out a couple of positions — we’re just struggling to get off the line and we need to see what’s going on there,” Albon said. “Obviously, it’s a long run into Turn 1, so I lost a couple of positions.
“At the start of the races it’s hard for us to do the overtakes on the straights, so we had to try to stay close and do the overtaking in other places. Some worked, some didn’t. In the one with Carlos (Sainz) I lost a few positions, then again with Kevin (Magnussen) I got the time penalty and that cost me three positions.
“It was a bit of a messy race. Saying that, I felt that the moves I tried were justified — I wasn’t trying to do anything crazy. We finished in P6; obviously without that time penalty it would have been P5, but, as a whole, I’m actually happier with my pace than I was in Spa. Compared to Max’s it has, at least, improved, so there were some positives there.”
Following his second appearance for Red Bull, Albon admits he still has a lot to learn with his new car but says his nerves are starting to subside after his mid-season move.
“They’re still there but I’m enjoying it more. I’m getting to know the car a bit better. In the race I felt I was getting a bit more comfortable but I’m still trying things in the races, seeing how the car behaves with switches and everything. It’s still all quite new to me but I feel it’s getting better and my pace was better than Spa. It’s going in a good way.”