Ex-driver turned pundit, Jolyon Palmer, fears Alex Albon has sealed his own fate with a “horrible race” at the Portuguese Grand Prix.
Lining up from P6 on the grid, Albon went backwards rather than forwards in Portimao and finished a rather lowly P12 to add more pressure on himself to keep his Red Bull race seat for 2021.
Christian Horner had said prior to lights out that the Portimao and Imola races would play a part in Red Bull’s decision for 2021 but Palmer suspects the decision may have already been made given Albon’s latest performance.
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“It was a horrible race for him, really, really horrible,” Palmer told BBC Five Live’s Chequered Flag podcast.
“He dropped back at the start on soft tyres and he should have had the tyres to potentially move forwards when you consider there were medium runners behind, Leclerc ahead on the mediums and the two Mercedes cars of course who struggled with the warm-up.
“But Albon plummeted out of the top 10 and then did he make an overtake again in the Grand Prix? I don’t think he did. He finished P12 behind Kimi Raikkonen.
“Raikkonen was up in fifth and the rest of the midfield basically all passed Raikkonen, including Sebastian Vettel at the end which knocked Kimi out of the points.
“But Albon was behind him pretty much the whole race, behind an Alfa Romeo which qualified P16. He was just unable to make any inroads at all.
“It was a really tough race. He was lapped by his team-mate. When the pressure has been put on, he has probably had the worst weekend…I would say that was his worst race yet for Red Bull pretty comfortably. It feels awfully timed.
“I think that time has run out for him. Unless Red Bull find in the data that he had a damaged floor, a damaged car or another mitigating circumstance for his drive, honestly I’d imagine that was the final nail in the coffin for Albon.”
If Albon does lose his Red Bull seat, Palmer believes he will land in the AlphaTauri safety net alongside Pierre Gasly.
He added: “It’s so tough [for him] but I don’t think he will be out of Formula 1. I’m sure he will go back to AlphaTauri to regroup like Pierre Gasly has done.
“And then you never know what’s going to happen. He’s only in his second year in Formula 1.”