Alex Albon has experienced a whole gamut of emotions since joining the F1 paddock for the 2019 season. His two-year stint has oscillated between the sublime and the mundane. He, unfortunately, was replaced by Sergio Perez for the 2021 and now finds himself racing in the DTM series. The performance coach of Alex Albon reflected on the 25-year-old driver’s travails with Red Bull.
The British-Thai driver got a surprise call-up to race for Red Bull after putting in encouraging performances with Toro Rosso in the first half of the 2019 season. He continued that form with Red Bull for the rest of 2019 and was rewarded with the drive for the 2020 season.
However, he suffered a stunning loss in form in 2020 as he struggled to regularly put his Red Bull into promising points finishes. The first two podiums of his F1 career proved to be insufficient in proving his suitability to the team for the 2021 season.
In an interview, the performance coach of Alex Albon, Patrick Harding, reflected on the young driver’s time with Red Bull. He said, “Of course the Netflix series is going to be dramatised. What you saw on the ground was a young driver on his second season. Promoted to a top-two team after 12 races. Trying to get to grips with the technical aspects of a tricky car. And also dealing with the weight of expectation that he puts on himself.”
Harding pointed out the examples of George Russell and Lando Norris in terms of inconsistencies found in young drivers. He said, “There’s a presumption that time and experience have an exponential line with performance but that just doesn’t happen.
“If you look at any of the young drivers like Lando [Norris] or George [Russell], none of them were consistent across every race weekend because they’re young.
“Over time you develop skills and learnings and experience and mental resilience and you put that together more consistently. Like Checo who took Alex’s seat, I think it was 100 races before he won. But the expectation was there, when you’re with Red Bull, you need results. That’s what he was dealing with across the season.”
Red Bull have tailored the entire design of the car to suit the unique talents of Max Verstappen. While this strategy is certainly viable, if, after a point, it doesn’t deliver the requisite results, it turns into insanity. This can lead to the other contracted driver in the team finding it hard to come to terms with the set-up. This, in turn, leads to a gradual loss of confidence for the said driver.
So, if the signing of Sergio Perez fails, this will lead to a major rethink within the team. It should give them cause for concern if that’s the case and maybe they will change their approach. Otherwise, the team risks losing out on the chance of pushing through the next best young driver through their program.