Team principal Christian Horner says Red Bull will try to rebuild Alex Albon’s confidence ahead of the Turkish Grand Prix, following a tough result at Imola.
Albon is under pressure for his seat at Red Bull and faces the prospect of being will be left without a drive at all if he is replaced. AlphaTauri, which would otherwise be his best option for remaining on the grid, is due to test Yuki Tsunoda tomorrow at Imola, and the Japanese driver is the favorite to partner Pierre Gasly next season.
After a solid Imola weekend that looked set to yield a sixth-place finish, Albon spun on cold tires during a late restart, and Horner said the team’s focus will be on building up his confidence again for the next race in Istanbul.
“A difficult one for Alex because he was in that race with Charles (Leclerc) and Daniel (Ricciardo) all afternoon, and then at the restart fighting (Sergio) Perez on new tires, he just lost it at the second chicane,” Horner told Sky Sports. “So, hugely frustrating for him to come away with zero points, and for the team as well. We’ll obviously try and work with him between now and Turkey and build him up again and go again there.”
Albon was still able to take some positives from the weekend after qualifying within 0.4s of team-mate Max Verstappen, when the gap has often been even greater over one lap.
“It was one of those races when we spent the whole race behind other cars,” Albon said. “There wasn’t much to do there. In hindsight we should have stopped when the others did at the end of the race, and of course we were the first cold tire car for them to come across so it was always going to be difficult to hold them off.
“I’m already (fighting to convince Red Bull) to be honest, it’s not like I’m not doing it already. I’m hanging in there, I’m doing everything I can. In retrospect it was not a bad weekend for me, but we’ll focus on for Turkey.”
While Albon admits he is missing out on being able to build on some of last year’s experiences due to the unusual calendar – the championship is currently in the middle of four races at venues that are one-off additions – he feels the Imola two-day weekend was a challenge that he could benefit from.
“It’s much easier going to circuits that I’ve been to, especially with the Red Bull car, which has only been (to Spa, Monza and Russia) and there is definitely a benefit to that,” he said. “Of course, experience is important, and it’s still relatively new to me, being with Red Bull, and also on top of that of course, new circuits as well.
“I wouldn’t say it really as a negative. I think if anything, it’s pretty good, not so much in terms of a teams thing, but as a driver, being with these kind of formats. It’s similar to Formula 2, Formula 3, that kind of thing, and I kind of enjoy that style where you’ve just got to adapt and drive around issues rather than fine tune set-ups and things like that.”