Alexander Albon says he had Lewis Hamilton flashbacks during Daniel Ricciardo move as losing out to Sergio Perez fired him up in F1 Tuscan GP.
Although Albon has got the podium from his chest after a solid drive in F1 Tuscan GP at Mugello, the Thai driver has still a long way to go to match Red Bull Racing teammate Max Verstappen, who is in the league of the two Mercedes drivers.
Verstappen’s DNF allowed Albon to play the lead Red Bull driver role but re-starts troubled him hugely, something which his teammate had issues with too. The constant losing of places hurt him as he had to re-pass the drivers he had overtaken.
Throughout the grand prix, though, his main fight was against Renault’s Ricciardo and Racing Point’s Lance Stroll. The Canadian’s retirement helped Albon to gain a place and tuck behind the Australian for the final re-start of the F1 grand prix.
It didn’t work as Ricciardo got Valtteri Bottas, while Albon lost to Perez. As the Finn cleared the Australian, the Thai overpowered the Mexican too. Post-race, he said that the loss to the Racing Point driver fired him up to push on for third.
He utilised the pace advantage to catch Ricciardo and pass him around the outside at Turn 1, which for a moment, gave him flashbacks of his double clash with Hamilton – something the Brit aplogised about even during the press conference. He stuck to it to score his first F1 podium – much to his and the team’s relief.
“I’d say so Daniel was the decisive one,” said Albon. “Honestly, on the mediums we were already strong and I thought, we were going to get Lance and Daniel. Obviously, once Lance had his failure, I thought, we got this chance but as soon as the red flag came out, I was worried because our starts were terrible and we were losing positions every single time.
“So, when I lost the position to Sergio initially, I was little bit motivated or angry. I knew I had to get past Sergio as fast as I could, and as soon I saw Daniel in my sights, I thought, I wouldn’t let this one go, went around the outside as the Renault were pretty quick down the straights, so it was a bit of a last-minute move, sent it deep, I had my Lewis flashbacks going into the corner but Daniel left enough space,” summed up Albon.
Elaborating more on the grand prix as a whole, Albon felt the pace was always there , where they only lacked at starts. “When you lose positions at the start you always feel like it’s going to be more hard work but you never doubt that you can get back up there,” he said. “It wasn’t an easy track to overtake.
“On the first stint I used a lot of my tyres to overtake, I think it was two cars, or whoever I did overtake and on the Mediums we were actually strong. I knew the pace was there – I was just a bit afraid because, with another red flag, it meant I would have been happy just to maintain position but the Renaults seemed to be very strong at starts and the Racing Point was also strong.
“I was fired up when we lost another two positions – or another position off the start – but I knew also that we had the pace. It was more about patience during the race and making sure you don’t overdrive the car too early, the tyres too early, so you had something left for the overtaking later on,” summed up Albon.
Once he cleared Ricciardo, his engineer pushed him to catch Bottas but Albon knew his tyres were done by then with the Finn upping his pace too. “At that time on softs, I was good, but after the move on Daniel, I could tell that the tyres took a hit on the rears.
“I was just fighting as it went off quickly. You just had nine laps on those soft tyres, I was going for it but didn’t have enough,” said Albon. The jubilation was there to see on his face and more so on Red Bull F1 chief Christian Horner, who was all at praise.
“I am really pleased for Alex because he has weathered a bit of criticism, he has bounded back,” said Horner. “To be fair, the last couple of weekends, its been getting stronger and stronger. For him to get the podium, he really had to fight for it, he had to do the hard way.
“The starts were pretty horrible, so he missed he missed around the outside. It is impressive where he puts the car and we see it time and again that his placement of the car is very-very good. Daniel is a hard guy to pass and to make that move around the outside and stick, all credit to him.”
Here’s Alex Albon being third-time lucky: https://www.formula1.com/en/video/2020/9/Third-time_lucky__Alex_Albon%27s_near_misses_and_podium-sealing_Tuscan_GP_pass.html
Here’s Max Verstappen on Lap 1 end