Alexander Albon says he struggled hugely with tyres and Sector 3 in F1 Spanish GP as Red Bull Racing is helping him hugely behind the scenes.
Having had yet another solid race on a Sunday in 70th Anniversary GP, Albon made strides on Saturday to qualify sixth for F1 Spanish GP at Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona. He couldn’t beat the Racing Points but it was some improvement.
The pressure on Albon, whether from within the F1 team and or pundits/fans outside, is huge, especially with the performances of Max Verstappen. The Thai racer actually got off well in Barcelona but got stuck behind Valtteri Bottas on the opening lap.
On a difficult circuit like Barcelona, Albon couldn’t make up places as his struggle with the tyres kick-started early in the grand prix. All-weekend long he always lost time in Sector 3 despite going well enough in Sector 1 and Sector 2.
Red Bull called him early for the hard compound, hoping that he could run them well and not lose performance, but it didn’t work as he ate those tyres as well. He made some moves but eventually had to settle for eighth, losing two places.
McLaren’s Carlos Sainz had track position by middle of the grand prix as a one-stopper Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel did well to hold Albon off, who struggled in his second stint. To be honest, we had to pit at that time because there was no tyres left on my first stint.
“In fact, I didn’t have any tyres left after each stint. I don’t know what it is but it was like appositive of Silverstone. It was like qualifying but just more, was really struggling to keep the tyres live. It hasn’t been an issue this year.
“I don’t want to say that it is a car because there is one car in P2. It is tricky to get hold off but we just need to look into the data and see how can we improve. Nothing was wrong as such, it was mainly Sector 3 where I couldn’t get close enough to overtake anyone.
“I was a sitting duck then despite being good in Sector 1 and Sector 2,” summed up Albon. The interesting aspect in the Thai’s case is the support from Red Bull as they have been open about the difficulties in the car as well which is hurting the driver.
Considering that they have dearth of talent at the moment despite Pierre Gasly doing well at AlphaTauri, Red Bull is keeping faith in Albon, especially due to his race craft. In the 15 races with the senior team, he has scored in 13 of them with a best of fourth.
The two where he did not, he at least had a certain podium if not a win. Looking at the results from 2019 Belgian GP until now, only Lewis Hamilton has scored in 15 rounds with Albon and Bottas tied on 13, while Verstappen did it in 12.
Meanwhile, Red Bull F1 chief Horner once again had support for Albon as he stated that they are doing as much behind the scenes to push his confidence to a better level against a mighty Verstappen, one of which was having Simon Rennie as his race engineer.
“I don’t think strategy was an issue,” said Horner. “The problem in Barcelona was that Albon didn’t have a good balance in the car and when the balance isn’t quite there on all three compounds of tyres, he just went through them incredibly quickly.
“Running in dirty air for such large percentage of the race, we just ate the tyres. We didn’t have any longevity to our stints, whether it was on the hard, the soft, the medium so that then compounds itself. It was very frustrating for him.
“We’re doing a huge amount of work behind the scenes. In the simulator, looking at the characteristics, the style of driving between the two cars, why is Max able to extract more out of the car? We bolstered his engineering side of the garage. There’s a lot of belief in Albon as he demonstrated in Silverstone.
“He has the ability to be a very quick racing driver. It’s not all making sense to him at the moment, we’ve got to try and help with through that. It’s a tough gig against Verstappen and I think the car is difficult to drive at the moment, but with time and some improvements on our side, we’ll manage to help him through it.”
Here’s what Max Verstappen said regarding radio outburst
Here’s how F1 Spanish GP panned out
Here’s what Carlos Sainz said on Max Verstappen