Alex Albon may have finished third in Bahrain but Max Verstappen doesn’t feel running “40 seconds behind your team-mate is very good”.
Nearing the end of a season in which Albon has yet to prove his worth as a Red Bull driver, or earn a contract for next season, the Thai-British racer claimed a fortuitous podium at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Albon took the restart in fifth place but was soon up to P4, benefitting from Valtteri Bottas’ puncture which forced the Mercedes driver into the pits.
That’s where he spent most of the grand prix, dropping time to Verstappen lap-on-lap while the Dutchman tried to make life difficult for race leader Lewis Hamilton.
It was not to be, prompting Red Bull to pit Verstappen for a third time to at least bag the fastest lap point as he raced his way towards second place.
With four laps remaining it looked as if Hamilton and Verstappen would be joined on the podium by Sergio Perez only for the Racing Point RP20 to suffer a late-race engine failure.
As Perez pulled over onto the side of the track, Albon took over third place.
It was only his second top-three result and one that could not have come at a better time as he tries to secure a 2021 Red Bull seat.
Verstappen, though, was not impressed with his team-mate’s performance.
“I don’t think that if you are 30 or 40 seconds behind your team-mate, that’s very good,” the 23-year-old told Ziggo Sport.
“I can just be honest about that, right?
“It was a shame for Checo too, because I think he drove a very strong race. It’s nice for Alex that he is on the podium.”
It remains to be seen whether Sunday’s podium saves Albon’s seat.
Although team boss Christian Horner acknowledges that the driver “benefitted’ from Perez’s misfortunes, he was happy with the manner in which Albon came back from his FP2 crash to finish third.
“Alex benefitted from what happened to Perez, but I think his recovery from Friday’s crash was strong,” the Red Bull team boss said as quoted by Grandpx.news.
“No decisions about contracts will be made until the end of the season, but we do want Alex to be successful and will give him every chance.”
He added: “Days like today will help him.”