Franz Tost says he knew from last year’s pre-season test in Barcelona that Alexander Albon had the ability to “surprise” in his debut campaign.
Albon was a late call-up to Toro Rosso with the Thai racer planning a future in Formula E after falling off the F1 radar.
Putting in the laps at the Circuit de Catalunya, his first-ever in a Formula 1 car, Tost says he knew back then that Albon would be something special.
“When he started testing it was his first time in a Formula 1 car and he did a really good test in Barcelona, where he showed his potential,” the team boss told GPToday.
“I said in Barcelona that he could become the surprise of the year of the young drivers, and Alex performed fantastically from the very beginning onwards.
“He came to Australia, which is not an easy race, and didn’t score points, but in the second race in Bahrain he finished in ninth position, scored two points and this showed his potential.
“Furthermore, Red Bull observed him and then they decided to swap the drivers.”
With Pierre Gasly failing to meet the grade at Red Bull, Albon was promoted to the senior team after the summer break.
Although he didn’t make it onto the podium, he was close in Brazill, losing out when he was hit late in the grand prix by Lewis Hamilton.
Tost believes Albon will improve on his 2019 showing as he continues to adjust to life at Red Bull Racing.
His only warning is for the 23-year-old to concentrate on himself and not get bogged down by trying to beat Max Verstappen.
He added: “He’s in his second season, and I always say that it takes three seasons minimum until a driver understands Formula 1.
“If you then have a driver alongside you like Max Verstappen, it’s on one hand very positive, because you can see where you gain time and where you lose time.
“But on the other hand, if he’s so fast it could be quite frustrating sometimes if you cannot match him.
“Alex should just concentrate on himself, he should learn, and then he will do it his way.”