Christijan Albers believes his former team Red Bull are able to make key decisions in-race faster than their rivals Mercedes.
At the Russian Grand Prix rain made for an entertaining weekend, with a mixed-up grid paving the way for a chaotic race when the wet stuff made a late appearance.
Just as Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was closing in on leader Lando Norris, a heavy rain shower forced drivers and their teams into a decision – did they switch to intermediates, or risk it in hope of reaching the chequered flag on slicks?
As it turned out, this rain was the perfect opportunity for Red Bull, with a quick switch to inters for Max Verstappen setting him up to finish P2, the perfect case of damage limitation against title-rival and race winner Hamilton, having started from the back.
And Albers believes that Red Bull have consistently shown that they can react and make decisions quicker than Mercedes.
“You often see Mercedes being a bit slow with their decisions and Red Bull being more on top of things,” he said on De Telegraaf’s Formula 1 podcast.
“Apparently when it comes to Red Bull’s strategy at the pit wall they have someone who really pays attention to the situation and they have a better team in place compared to Mercedes.
“That was a plus for Max this race. You also saw when Lewis arrived at Parc Fermé, you saw him looking next to him all the time like ‘who is next to me’. At some point Max was standing there and that was obviously not great.”
Hamilton and Verstappen both started out of position in Russia from P4 and P20 respectively, though neither actually made a good getaway off the line.
For Hamilton it was a case of heading into a gap which wasn’t there, causing him to lose momentum down to Turn 2 as he bailed out, while Albers feels Verstappen’s bad start may have been down to time restrictions.
Being the final driver to take to his grid slot after the formation lap, Verstappen had far less time than usual to sort out his start procedures.
“They both actually had a super bad start as well, like Lewis Hamilton, who had a really bad start, but so did Max,” said Albers.
“Maybe it was because Max was last on the grid, the whole procedure of putting the car in first gear and adjusting those electronics to get that ideal start, you almost don’t have time for that.
“That’s really quite crazy, you’re not at all used to that when you join at the back and you come onto the grid. Normally someone is just waiting for almost half a minute or twenty, thirty seconds. Which for a driver feels like almost five minutes.
“Now he joins at the back and it’s immediately the start, so you could see he lost quite a bit there. Then you see Lewis also being very careful, because those guys at the front have nothing to lose. I think they both did well.”
Tale of two halves for Red Bull at Sochi
The Red Bull drivers had very different weekends at the Russian Grand Prix.