Does Alex Albon deserve to keep his seat at Aston Martin Red Bull Racing?
Here, with so much speculation as we write this report and Sky Sports F1’s Ted Kravitz saying:-
“We are expecting an announcement maybe in the next coming week that Sergio Perez has joined the team [Red Bull]. And Alex Albon will stay on as a test and reserve driver, and maybe they might even share the drive next year.
More on Ted’s comments at the end of this article.
Alexander Albon and Phuket Island Radio
We identified Alexander Albon in mid 2019 when Red Bull announced Alex Albon to move into the main team we thought then and still do that this move would open the door for a Thailand F1 Race?
Here at Phuket Island Radio we are still of that opinion.
We asked in August 2019 if the Thai Nation would get behind this young driver. Looking at his social profile we certainly believe the Thai’s have. Also, remembering the origins and currently 50% owners of Red Bull are Thai.
Albon’s 2020 season recap.
If one word described Albon’s season, it would be inconsistent. Alex has had a rollercoaster ride throughout 2020. Unfortunately for the London-born Thai driver, that rollercoaster has had only a few high points but many lows. Albon knows this too, and he now enters the winter break awaiting news on if he will be driving in 2021 F1 season.
Alex Albon had an encouraging start in the two Austrian races. He may have even won the season opener if not for colliding with Lewis Hamilton late on in the race. The following three rounds in Hungary and Britain were unspectacular. Albon finished behind cars that the Red Bull should easily be quicker than.
NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 02: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB16 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on August 02, 2020 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
But things got worse for the Thai driver as he ended his Spanish Grand Prix a full lap behind on the leaders. Two weeks later, and more disappointment for Alex as his race ended behind both the cars of Red Bull’s rivals, Renault. Esteban Ocon overtook him on the very last lap to further the frustration for Red Bull, too.
The following week at Monza and there was an extra insult for Alex Albon. The man he replaced at Red Bull in 2019, Pierre Gasly, won the Italian Grand Prix for the team that Albon left. Meanwhile, Albon had lost out in the pit stops following the safety car and finished the race in an embarrassing 15th place.
Thailand on the podium
However, that trip to Italy wasn’t all negative as the F1 circus also descended on Mugello for the first “Tuscan” Grand Prix. It was here that Alex Albon stood on the F1 podium to collect his third-place trophy. This race also marked the very first time in Formula One’s seventy-year history that they had the blue, white and red flag of Thailand in the podium celebrations. Prince Bira’s highest finishing position back in the ’50s was fourth place. Albon was breaking new ground for the country.
NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 09: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB16 on track during the F1 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone on August 09, 2020 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Ben Stansall/Pool via Getty Images)
That delight didn’t last for long, though. With the hope that the silverware would trigger a resurgence of the fight Albon demonstrated in 2019, Alex instead scored one point from the subsequent four races. The low point was at the Eifel Grand Prix where Red Bull retired Albon from the race. The rumours from the paddock indicated his employer was none too impressed by his reckless driving resulting in damage to the car’s radiator.
Albon at theTurkish Grand Prix
But Albon turned things around a little more for the closing rounds. At the soaking wet Istanbul Park for the Turkish Grand Prix, he was right on the tail of Max Verstappen. With many experts regarding Verstappen as one of the best in wet weather, Alex Albon being within touching distance at the chequered flag was a feather in his cap. Nearly all the drivers spun or ran wide in the wet weather, and while Albon did too, he kept his car out of the barriers to collect seventh-place in the most tricky of conditions.
Alex Albon’s return to form continued as F1 landed in the Middle East for the final trio of races. His third place at Bahrain helped Red Bull secure their first double podium finish since Japan 2017. Another trophy to go in Albon’s cabinet from his difficult 2020 season. Things didn’t go so well the following week where Albon finished the race sixth despite many front-runners being out of contention. Nonetheless, Alex Abon was still was the highest finisher from the top two teams.
Alex Albon in Abu Dhabi
For the final race, Alex Albon put in a performance at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi that may well save his seat for 2021. With Albon struggling to keep up with the pace of his Dutch superstar teammate Max Verstappen throughout the 2020 season, a strong showing in the season finale was just what he needed.
Albon finished in fourth place and was hunting down the seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton in the final laps of the race. In fact, the Thai driver ended the race as the only one from the top four finishers to perform an overtake in a typically dull Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
After qualifying in fifth place, thanks to extremely quick Lando Norris pipping him to 4th, Alex Albon did what was needed and pass the McLaren early on. Red Bull will be encouraged as they go into the off-season by the 24-year-old’s race pace. Albon showed he has the speed to help the team choose additional race strategies by acting as Verstappen’s number two while Albon himself gains F1 experience. That has been something that Alex’s employer has seldom enjoyed in 2020 thanks to his generally lacklustre season.
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – DECEMBER 13: The Red Bull Racing team cheer as Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB16 passes them at the end of the race during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 13, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Will Alex keep his seat?
Alex Albon’s first full season at the sharp end of the grid wasn’t the breakthrough success we or he had hoped to enjoy. After demonstrating he is a quick driver and more than capable of passing others on track in 2019, some suspect Red Bull designed their 2020 car entirely for Max Verstappen to the detriment of Albon.
Should he remain at the team for 2021 with a Red Bull that Alex can get the most out of, we could still hear the Thai national anthem play at the end of an F1 Grand Prix.
Ted Kravits on the Alex Albon announcement speculation.
Ted’s comments come at 11 minutes in.