Alexander Albon proved at the Tuscan GP that he is “good enough” to race for Red Bull, that’s according to Ross Brawn.
Albon joined Red Bull Racing last season, promoted midway through the championship when Pierre Gasly was sent in the other direction.
His time at Red Bull, though, hasn’t been easy.
While Max Verstappen has taken the fight to Mercedes, bagging podiums and race wins, Albon’s best showing up until Sunday was two P4s.
This, coupled with Gasly’s Italian GP win, heaped pressure on the 24-year-old’s shoulders with pundits constantly throwing out names for who could replace him at Red Bull.
Albon answered the criticism with a first Formula 1 podium at Sunday’s Tuscan Grand Prix.
Brawn wrote: “Alex Albon has had a fair bit of flak this season, and will have found it hard to see Pierre Gasly – the driver he replaced at Red Bull midway through last year – secure his maiden victory last weekend while he failed to score.
“But at Mugello, he drove beautifully – and he certainly had to work for it. Some of his overtaking moves were outstanding, particularly the pass on Daniel Ricciardo for third.
“In Max Verstappen, Albon has a stellar team-mate and it’s always going to be challenging for him – or anyone in that seat.
“I think he’s doing a good enough job to maintain his seat – and this podium will have done wonders for his confidence.”
— Aston Martin Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) September 13, 2020
Team boss Christian Horner was quick to praise Albon’s Mugello performance and believes Sunday’s podium is just the beginning for the driver.
“I’m really pleased for him because he’s weathered a bit of criticism, he’s bounced back, and to be fair the last couple of weekends he has been getting stronger and stronger,” Horner told Sky F1.
“For him to get that podium today he had to really fight for it, he had to do it the hard way, the starts were pretty horrible today, he’s ‘Mr Around the Outside’.
“It’s really impressive and we see it time and again with him that his placement of the car is really very very good.”
He added: “His disadvantage if anything is that he’s too nice.
“But once he puts the helmet on you can see there is a real racer in there and I think there is a big difference between thinking you can do it and knowing you can do it.
“I think this podium will just give him a boost of confidence and self-belief. I think he will build from here nicely.”