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How do Red Bull solve the Albon conundrum?

How do Red Bull solve the Albon conundrum?

F1 News

How do Red Bull solve the Albon conundrum?

How do Red Bull solve the Albon conundrum?

Red Bull's apparent problems with driver Alex Albon resurfaced again during the Eifel Grand Prix weekend as the Thai-British driver endured a torrid 25 laps before retiring.

Team principal Christain Horner declared a punctured radiator as the reason Albon's race was curtailed, but in all honesty, it had been on a downward spiral throughout.

So let's have a look at what is going on in Milton Keynes. Is Albon struggling or is there an issue with the car? Is he improving or getting worse? Should he be moved aside?

Is it Albon or the car at fault?

One thing is for sure, the car was not at fault for Albon's trials and tribulations at the Nürburgring. A lock-up at turn three on the opening lap ruined his tyre strategy before a clumsy accident with Daniil Kvyat's AlphaTauri earned him a time penalty and two penalty points.

But that was very much an isolated weekend of mistakes. The norm has previously seen Albon struggle for outright one-lap pace, meaning his races start on the back foot.

Generally, however, his race pace has been good, with superb racecraft often masking the deficiencies of his overall weekend performance and which recently led to the coining of the nickname "Mr Around the outside" from Horner.

Red Bull has often reiterated the RB16 is has been a difficult car to get to grips with and have endeavoured to improve the overall complexion of it. At the moment, it doesn't seem to be improving Albon's mood.

Is Albon improving or deteriorating

The end of the 2019 season was a bedding-in period for Albon after he made the switch from Toro Rosso to Red Bull. For the most part, the tail end of that campaign mirrors this, with good race results offsetting a lack of pace in qualifying.

With the RB16 bringing similar issues in terms of handling to Max Verstappen - although the Dutchman has managed to maximise speed - you could say it was inevitable momentum would take a step back this year.

It was not the case, though, as Albon took supreme speed into the season-opener at Spielberg and, arguably, should have emerged victorious but for a tangle with Lewis Hamilton.

The flashbacks to Brazil of last year clearly affected Albon, who has struggled for form since. As mentioned, some superb early-season race performances masked his issues and a corner seemed to be turned when he qualified fourth for the Tuscan Grand Prix en route to his first podium in the sport.

However, a 1.2-second gap to Verstappen in qualifying at Sochi followed by a tough trundle to 10th in the race looks to have knocked the second-year driver back down a step again.

Horner said after the Eifel GP that the race was a step forward for Albon, which it was compared to Russia, but that was so woefully bad you cannot really use that weekend as a barometer. He certainly appears to be on a downward trend at the moment.

Will he remain at Red Bull?

For now, it seems he has the full backing of the Red Bull hierarchy. Horner, in particular, has rarely uttered a bad word against Albon, whether he believes what he is saying or not.

Of course, the same could be said for when Pierre Gasly was in the same situation just over a year ago. Horner had said they had no reason to drop Gasly before, lo and behold, they did.

It is interesting, though, to point out that whilst Gasly only had 12 races with the team, his first 11 yielded 55 points. Compared to Albon's tally after 11 races this season and the Frenchman would trail by nine points. In fact, he is only 11 behind driving for AlphaTauri at present.

The other argument to aid Albon's cause is the competitiveness of the midfield in F1 this season. On occasion, Red Bull has been in a close battle in qualifying with Racing Point or Renault.

Of course, there have been times where Red Bull and Mercedes have been a class apart but at some races, a three tenth-gap between the two Red Bulls has only affected Albon's position by one or two spots on the grid, whereas a similar gap at the British Grand Prix in Q2 cost him nine.

It seems unlikely Albon will be demoted before the season's end, if at all. What he does need to do, though, is regain the form everyone knows he is capable of. He has the talent, he has the speed. Red Bull would not have given him the seat otherwise.

With Gasly in the form of his life and now a race winner, the ball is firmly in Albon's court. It is now over to him for the final six races of this season to prove his worth.

Before you go...

Hamilton hits back at 'bee in his bonnet" Sir Jackie Stewart

Five talking points from the Eifel Grand Prix


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