Alexander Albon feels he is getting closer to Max Verstappen’s level at Red Bull as his confidence grows with more time in the car.
Red Bull opted to replace Pierre Gasly with Albon during the summer break, with the Frenchman having struggled to match Verstappen during the first part of the year. Albon duly set the exact same time as Verstappen in qualifying in Japan and finished fourth as his team-mate retired, and believes added time in the car is boosting his confidence.
“It’s getting there, straightaway I just felt more comfortable in the car in FP1 and have the car a bit more under me and it felt like I could do what I wanted,” Albon said. “As soon as you get confident, that’s where the lap time is and I just felt really confident this weekend at a track where you need it, so it was a good day and a good weekend.
“I’m happy with finishing fourth. I’m more happy with qualifying even though it was sixth! I’m starting to feel a bit more comfortable in the car now and even just doing the Pirelli test that I did on Monday helps with that, so just more mileage in the car is always good for me.”
Even though fourth place was his personal best result in F1, Albon admits he was hoping Red Bull would be even more competitive at Suzuka and feels there is work to do ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix where the team has traditionally gone well.
“We wanted to be a bit stronger coming into the weekend, we were close but we didn’t quite have the pace,” Albon said. “We’ll have a look and come back stronger in Mexico … We’ll see and I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself but I think historically we have always been quick around there so we’ll give it a go.”
And despite his solid start to life at Red Bull, Albon insists he is not spending much time dwelling on his future, even though Helmut Marko hinted at a decision being made by Mexico.
“I’m focusing on myself really and treating each weekend as it comes,” Albon said. “I don’t want to think too much about that. Time will tell, (keeping the seat) is obviously the goal.”