Max Verstappen’s former team-mate Alex Albon has refuted suggestions Red Bull’s F1 cars are designed with the Dutchman in mind, they just happes to lean towards him because he is “very quick”.
Red Bull’s lead driver since Daniel Ricciardo’s departure after the 2018 season, Verstappen has trounced his team-mates in every stat that matters including World titles.
Such has been his brilliance it has led to suggestions Red Bull are designing their Formula 1 cars to suit his style, something the team has rubbished.
‘It becomes so sharp that it makes you a little bit tense’
According to Red Bull technical director Pierre Wache the team’s only objective is to create the fastest car possible.
“You know, when we develop the car, then you go for the best performance development,” he insisted last season.
It just so happened that in doing that Red Bull designed cars that was extremely sharp on the front-end as that’s where Verstappen gets his added pace, says Albon.
“The first thing is, a lot of people say that car is built around him, he’s kind of like the Michael Schumacher of Ferrari, he’s created this team around him,” he told the High Performance Podcast.
“Truthfully, the car is what it is, he is very quick, so what ends up happening is… He has quite a unique driving style, it’s not that easy to get along with.
“Everyone has a driving style, I would say my driving style is a bit more on the smooth side, but I like a car that has a good front-end, so quite sharp, quite direct. Max does too, but his level of sharp and direct is a whole different level. It’s eye-wateringly sharp.
“To give people kind of maybe an explanation of what that might feel like, if you bump up the sensitivity [on a computer game] completely to the max and you move that mouse and it’s just darting across the screen everywhere, that’s kind of how it feels. It becomes so sharp that it makes you a little bit tense.”
Alex Albon explains the ‘snowball’ effect
As Verstappen emerges early in the season as Red Bull’s best-placed candidate the team adapts the car to his sharper front-end needs and that creates a “snowball” effect.
With the gap to Verstappen then growing, Albon says the problem is compounded as the team-mate then tries to push too hard and take more risks.
And so the divide grows even bigger, leading to mistakes, and an even bigger deficit.
“What ended up happening was, especially during my year, you start off being a little bit behind, but not by much, and then as the season goes on, Max wants this front-end in the car, he wants his car to be sharper, sharper,” the former Red Bull driver added.
“As it goes sharper and sharper, he goes quicker and quicker, and for you to catch up you have to start taking a little bit more risk. You might be a couple of tenths behind one session, just try a little bit more, ‘OK, I’ve gone off, I’ve had a crash’, and you’ve got to restart.
“Then you’ve lost a little bit of confidence, it takes a little bit more time, that gap is growing a little bit, and the next time you try and go out and do another job, [it’s] another spin or another whatever – it just starts to snowball. Every time the car becomes sharper and sharper, you start to become more tense.
“It’s like any sport, if you start to not be in that flow state, and you’re having to really think about it, and every time you go into a corner, you don’t know how it’s going to react, you don’t have that kind of… It’s purely the confidence in the car, the flow. It doesn’t work, it never works.”
Albon spent a year and a half on the track as Verstappen’s team-mate before being demoted to a reserve driver role in 2021. He left the team at the end of that season to join Williams.