Franz Tost informed Red Bull of Alex Albon’s as early as pre-season testing last year, months before the rookie was promoted in the summer break.
Albon’s first time in a Formula 1 car came with Toro Rosso in Barcelona last February, and although he slid into the gravel early on, he impressed his new boss. After a strong first half of the year and with Pierre Gasly struggling, Red Bull took the decision to promote Albon in August, and Tost – who’s team will be re-named Alpha Tauri this year – told RACER he had been immediately convinced of Albon’s talent.
“When he started testing it was his first time in a Formula 1 car and he did a really good test in Barcelona, [that’s] where he showed his potential,” Tost said. “I said in Barcelona that he could become the surprise of the year of the young drivers, and Alex performed fantastically from the very beginning onwards.
“He came to Australia, which is not an easy race, and didn’t score points, but in the second race in Bahrain he finished in ninth position, scored two points and this showed his potential. Furthermore, Red Bull observed him and then they decided to swap the drivers.”
Asked if he was giving Red Bull the same feedback directly as well as praising Albon in the media, Tost replied: “Yes, of course.
“We are always talking together – Helmut (Marko), Christian (Horner) and myself – discussing different drivers. I said from the beginning onwards during the testing in Barcelona that he really shows a good performance.”
Now, Albon is paired with a proven race-winner in Max Verstappen and yet to score a podium himself, and Tost says Red Bull needs to give the 23-year-old time while also urging him to not focus on his team-mate too much.
“He’s in his second season, and I always say that it takes three seasons minimum until a driver understands Formula 1,” he said.
“If you then have a driver alongside you like Max Verstappen, it’s on one hand very positive, because you can see where you gain time and where you lose time. But on the other hand, if he’s so fast it could be quite frustrating sometimes if you cannot match him. Alex should just concentrate on himself, he should learn, and then he will do it his way.”