Red Bull driver programme boss Dr Helmut Marko says their 2021 line-up will be finalised “before Christmas”.
Heading into the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix the signs were starting to point towards Alex Albon being retained for 2021 despite his sketchy form this season.
And after he delivered his best display of 2020 in the season-ending event, putting late pressure on Lewis Hamilton for a place on the podium before just coming up short, it seemed the Thai driver may well have delivered with his final shot.
But after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix had concluded Sky F1 reporter Ted Kravitz then blew the situation wide open again when he said Red Bull are expected to announce Sergio Perez alongside Max Verstappen for 2021, leaving Albon to play the role of test and reserve driver.
But whatever the outcome is, Marko said a decision will be made before December 25.
“It was one of his best races, still, we will think it over and make our decision, before Christmas,” he told Autosport.
“We have to go through all the data. There are so many things we have to look at.”
Red Bull principal Christian Horner was full of praise for Albon in Abu Dhabi, and he, like Marko, said the time has come to look at a full season’s worth of data to reach a decision.
“We’ve always said that we’ll go to the end of the year, and then make our decision at the end of the season,” he said.
“So Alex had probably his strongest race weekend actually this weekend, which is encouraging for him, but we now have a full picture of the season. And we’ll make that decision in the coming days.
“Obviously we have a huge amount of data now. We have all the knowledge across the various circuits that we’ve done, and we’ll sit down and obviously go through that and come to the right conclusion.”
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Horner said it’s the ability to disrupt Mercedes’ strategy which his team have been missing, but in Abu Dhabi Albon at last brought himself into the equation as Verstappen led every lap from pole to take the win.
“It is certainly what we were expecting to see, because the only way that you can put Mercedes under pressure is if, for example, they had split their strategy we could have been very exposed,” he explained.
“And certainly at the end of the race Alex was able to close on them.
“He obviously lost a bit of ground at the beginning of the stint after the Safety Car, once he was changed on to the same strategy to the end of the race.
“But I think Alex has driven a good race, and he’s had a solid weekend.”