Alex Albon had a tough time as Max Verstappen’s team-mate, but he made it clear there was no tailoring of the car to his needs at Red Bull.
Albon was quickly promoted to Red Bull alongside Verstappen in his first season in Formula 1 as Pierre Gasly struggled to match the now-three-time World Champion, with the Thai-British driver initially impressing alongside the Dutchman.
He could not match him in 2020, however, and when Sergio Perez became available after Racing Point – soon to become Aston Martin at that time – replaced him with Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull opted to put Perez in alongside Verstappen and drop Albon to a reserve role.
Alex Albon quashes Max Verstappen Red Bull favouritism theory
Albon returned to the grid with Williams in 2022 and has since flourished, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner praising him last season and backing him to become “hot property” once again in future.
But despite his struggles to match Verstappen, Albon dismissed thoughts that Red Bull had been building their cars to suit Verstappen’s unique driving style – with the Dutchman able to wring as much as he can from an unstable car, rather than preferring to drive an inherently stable car.
Albon added that Red Bull had been doing everything they could in his time at the team to help him improve, and used the example of other drivers to struggle with certain cars in describing how some drivers find it difficult to feel comfortable behind the wheel.
Ultimately, though, he said he feels like a better driver for this time in his career.
“No, quite the opposite actually!” Albon told Motorsport-Total when asked if the characteristics of the Red Bull cars were tailored to Verstappen’s needs.
“[Red Bull] thought about how they could help me to feel more comfortable in the car.
“Other drivers who have gone through difficult phases in their careers, like Daniel [Ricciardo] at McLaren, found it difficult to feel comfortable in the car, so we tried to make me feel comfortable in the Red Bull.
“Somehow that never really worked out. With the knowledge I have today, I could have managed that. But it’s easy to talk in hindsight.
“The bottom line is that I feel it’s made me even better and more focussed in this area, that I understand better what feedback I need to provide, that I’ve been through these difficult months and race weekends.”
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