Ex-F1 driver Jolyon Palmer has criticised the latest “dud” strategy which Red Bull used for Alex Albon at the Spanish Grand Prix.
The Thai driver still had over seven tenths to find on team-mate Max Verstappen come the end of qualifying, but crucially he lined up P6 on the grid having missed out on Q3 at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.
And after a decent start Albon remained in P6 and was starting to put pressure on the Racing Point of Sergio Perez ahead.
That was until Lap 18 when Red Bull called their driver in and sent him back out on to the hard tyres, a move that baffled many since the drivers had been complaining about the C1s throughout practice. They were like “driving on ice” as George Russell put it.
And as expected Albon got bogged down in the midfield before a second stop for the medium tyres. He would cross the line in P8.
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“The whole race was baffling for that side of the garage,” said Palmer on the Chequered Flag podcast.
“Verstappen had a solid effort but Albon is the man under pressure, started sixth but let’s not kid ourselves he was still three quarters of a second off Verstappen in qualifying.
“He was sixth by the skin of his teeth ahead of the rest of the midfield, but it should have given him a chance to be ahead of the midfield in this race because he started ahead of them, apart from the Racing Points who are sort of the bridge at the upper end of the midfield.
“But for the Red Bull strategists it’s inexplicable what they did, pitting him the first of anyone to go on to the hard tyres which by the way are useless around this circuit.
“The amount of times on Friday that people were saying it’s like driving on ice, there’s no grip, then in comes Albon straight to the awful tyre.
“Then he comes out of the pits right behind Magnussen, Raikkonen and Ocon who were on medium tyres and they’re going to be going for the next 30 laps.
“They’re using Albon like a guinea pig for the team, there’s no way they’re pitting Verstappen on to a hard tyre at that point, it had to be Albon that gets the dud strategy.
“The strategists on that side need to have a think about that because it was poor again for Albon.”
Albon is P6 in the Drivers’ Championship heading into the next round at Spa, 55 points behind team-mate Verstappen.