(Motorsport-Total.com) – After the sense of achievement with the first Formula 1 podium in Mugello, Alexander Albon is back to reality at the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi 2020. The Thai received a swat of 1.141 seconds from Max Verstappen in qualifying and in the race he finished tenth one and a half minutes behind his teammate, who finished second.
“It wasn’t an easy race,” sighs Albon. The beginning of it was unsuccessful before it even started – because it was moved back from tenth to 15th place due to a transmission penalty. That gave him the cleaner side of the starting grid, but because he drove off the track in the turmoil of Turn 2, he even fell back to P18.
Right at the end of the first lap, he used the safety car phase to switch from soft to hard – but the presumably intended plan to continue with it to the end had to be discarded on lap 27 (change to medium).
“I struggled with the hard tire and did what I could with the medium. But it was just difficult out there,” he admits. He felt “a little” more comfortable in the car than in qualifying, but: “Not a lot. It was a difficult race because I was in traffic almost the whole time. I never really had a clear run, even a few fast ones To do laps. “
Overtaken by Gasly of all people …
In the end, he had too long a hard time against Norris-McLaren, who was fighting with completely worn tires, and on top of that he had himself cooked by Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) of all people, who at that time had the slightly fresher tires.
It was also a bit of luck that he finally came tenth and wrote a point. Because of a violation of the specified lane in the emergency exit of Turn 2, he received a five-second penalty that had no effect on his race result. The lead over Antonio Giovinazzi was big enough.
In the World Cup, after ten of 17 races, Albon scored exactly half as many points (64) as Verstappen (128), even though the Dutchman has already been eliminated three times due to technical defects. The pressure on Red Bull to think twice about number 2 drivers for 2021 is not easing in the face of such numbers.
“Alex is particularly sensitive to some of the driving characteristics of our car. He has his problems with that,” says team principal Christian Horner. “This has a particular effect on this type of track with short corners and long braking zones.”
Horner: Albon can’t get along with the car
Albon had “reasonably recovered” in the second half of the race, Horner credits him, but: “There are quite a few things that he has to see.” And: “It’s a shame that two weeks after the podium he now had perhaps the most difficult weekend of the year.”
“We understood some of the problems we have with this car,” he says. “We are of course working hard to fix them and I hope that we can take further steps in the remaining races to get these problem areas under control better.”
But it is also clear: Red Bull has a driver in its own stable, Gasly, who is particularly recommended for higher tasks; and with Nico Hülkenberg and Sergio Perez are two heavyweights without a cockpit for 2021, which many experts can easily imagine as number 2 next to Verstappen.
The pressure on Albon is not lessening …