Lewis Hamilton should be asked about his approach to racing Alex Albon after a second collision between the pair in three races, according to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
Albon was on new soft tires in the closing stages of Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix and running directly behind the two Mercedes cars after a Safety Car restart when he and Hamilton went wheel-to-wheel at Turn 4. Albon appeared close to completing an impressive move around the outside for second place when his right rear and Hamilton’s left front made contact, causing the Red Bull to spin and earning Hamilton a five-second time penalty.
“Where it was in the corner, Alex had won the corner, it was on the exit of the corner, why Lewis needed to stick a wheel in there I’ve no idea,” Horner said. “So obviously frustrating for Alex that this is the second time in three races that this has happened to him. It was unfortunate because I think he would have had a chance to win the race today.”
Asked what advice he would give to Albon the next time he is racing Hamilton – after the defending champion picked up the same penalty for a similar incident between the two in Brazil last year – Horner replied: “Probably be careful!
“Alex didn’t have the straight-line speed, so he knew he had, with the grip advantage, to pass him in or out of a corner. As far as he was concerned, the job was done. He was starting to look down the road towards Valtteri (Bottas) when Lewis put a wheel on the inside. So I think it is more perhaps Lewis that the questions should be asked of what he would do differently.”
Horner defended the timing of Albon’s attempt to pass, with the Red Bull driver going for the move on the first lap after a Safety Car restart when there were still 10 laps remaining.
“The biggest advantage he had was on the warm-up of the tire, because Mercedes have got to get the hard tire going after quite a few laps behind the Safety Car,” he said. “It was quite aged, and we could see the Mercedes were very quick on the straights today. So you needed to make it work, and he got the job done going into the corner, through the corner he was ahead, and it was just accelerating out when Lewis put on the inside of his right rear. So you can’t be angry at him for that.”