Alex Albon “got nervous” due to the state of his tyres, according to Dr Helmut Marko, during a Turkish Grand Prix the driver thought he had a chance to win.
The Red Bull racer said afterwards “it was looking like a win”, referring to the stage when he was running third at Istanbul Park and closing on the two Racing Point cars ahead of him.
But ultimately Albon finished seventh, one place behind his team-mate Max Verstappen, after losing out during the pit-stops and he also had a spin on lap 34 of 58.
It was Lewis Hamilton who took victory by more than half a minute from Sergio Perez in the Racing Point, both of them managing to avoid a second pit-stop by making their intermediate tyres last as they essentially turned into slicks on a drying track.
Marko, the Red Bull motorsport director, thought Albon had become edgy because his tyres were graining – and while the Austrian did not actually say so, there may also have been the pressure of the London-born Thai driver needing a strong result to potentially safeguard his future in the team.
“Albon lost places and time due to a spin,” said Marko, quoted by Auto Motor und Sport. “But he mainly got nervous because the tyres were graining.
“We should have stayed out like Hamilton or Perez. The tyres would have recovered at some point, but Albon lost his nerve in a tense situation.”
However, it was not all bad news for the 24-year-old from the man who will eventually have the casting vote on his future.
“In the end, he was well on his way, even faster than Max,” added Marko.
After looking like he was on for a podium at least, Albon in the end did little to enhance his prospects for 2021 and unless he is able to achieve anything spectacular in the remaining races it looks like he will be replaced at Red Bull by either Nico Hulkenberg or Sergio Perez.
Regarding who will partner Verstappen next year, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: “We’re not putting any particular timescale on it.
“Alex’s contract allows us to make that decision after the season. Obviously we are aware of what the other options are.
“We want to see Alex lay claim to that seat and to give him as much time as we can and as much support as we can.”