Alex Albon has made a lot of progress during the last tripleheader of Formula 1 races, according to Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner.
Albon picked up the first podium of his F1 career at Mugello, overtaking Daniel Ricciardo in the closing stages for third place. That followed difficult races at Monza and Spa-Francorchamps, but Horner says that run of three rounds had shown Albon is making clear improvements at Red Bull.
“I was delighted to see Alex achieve his first F1 podium,” Horner said. “There has been quite a bit of external pressure on him this year, especially from the media. He is such a nice guy out of the car but he is mentally very strong and what impresses me is that he is always able to come back and put in a performance, especially on race day. After a bad Saturday, he’s always brushed himself down and come back strong on Sunday.
“In the last three races he has started to make a lot of progress. Alex is a deep thinker and he works very hard. He is super analytical and very honest with his feedback.
“He is also a gritty racer and knows how to get his elbows out, which is one of the reasons he is a Red Bull driver. He has that never-give-up mentality and he keeps coming back even when the chips are down, which we expect from our drivers. Look at his moves on Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez in Mugello that got him the podium. Daniel is one of the hardest racers and latest brakers on the grid, and that pass was for a podium and a tattoo for Cyril! So, there was no way that Daniel was going to give that up and to pass him around the outside of Turn 1 showed great bravery and racecraft.
“The podium will be good for Alex. A big thing for all drivers is thinking you can do it but it is only when you actually achieve a podium or a win that you think, ‘OK, I can do this.’ It is the realization and I really hope this opens the doors for him confidence wise and that he walks tall, as he deserves his seat and his place in F1.”
Horner also acknowledged the impressive job being done by Pierre Gasly — who Albon replaced at Red Bull last year — after the Frenchman’s shock victory at the first Italian round.
“With the races coming back to back, we did not have too much time to reflect on Pierre Gasly’s win in Monza. He did a great job to convert his opportunity into a win and, on a day we could not compete for the victory and the day that Mercedes had a shocker, then there is no better team than our sister team, AlphaTauri to take victory.
“It was brilliant for them and good to see a different podium. It was great for Pierre but for our outlook it doesn’t really change anything. AlphaTauri are now more of a sister team rather than a junior team, so their aspirations are slightly different; having a driver with experience and talent like Pierre is working well in that environment.”