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Albon is the most underrated F-1 driver. His expulsion from Red Bull was a mistake

Date: June 17, 2024 Time: 02:51:31

The main hero of this past weekend of racing was Williams driver Alex Albon. On Saturday June 17, the Thai driver reached the decisive qualifying segment, and on Sunday he drove a perfect race, finishing an all-time seventh for Williams.

The Canadian Grand Prix is ​​far from Albon’s first feat behind the wheel of a weak car. Returning to F-1 after a year’s break, Alex unexpectedly began to display some very mature and cold-blooded aerobatics. Against the background of the not very encouraging results of Nick de Vries and the uncertainty with the contract of Sergio Perez, the question involuntarily arises: did Red Bull really rush to fire the Thai two years ago?

Albon came to Red Bull too soon. Alex was not ready for a top team

In 2019, Alex Albon made his Formula 1 debut driving a Toro Rosso car, and after another 11 stages he became Max Verstappen’s teammate in the Bulls’ main team. The rapid growth of the rookie’s career was due to Dr. Marco’s intolerance towards the mistakes of Red Bull Academy students, which had reached its peak value. Pierre Gasly showed unremarkable results in the first part of the season, after which he was replaced by Albon, who, by the way, also did not show anything supernatural. Five points finishes in 12 races is a good result for a rookie, but not for a potential Red Bull driver.

Be that as it may, the meat grinder of Taurine Academy talents could no longer stop: on the eve of the Belgian Grand Prix, Alex was promoted to the driver of the main team. Whether the driver, whose experience was limited to 12 Formula 1 races, was prepared for such race acceleration is a secondary question. The personnel policy of the “bulls” at that time reached the peak of its insanity, so the debutant was calmly awarded the place of the Red Bull fighter pilot.

Alex Albon and Lewis Hamilton

Photo: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

It’s worth noting that, at first, Albon looked pretty decent in the bulls’ main team. In the remaining nine races of the season, Alex scored more points than Pierre Gasly in the 12 stages he spent with Red Bull (76-62). After such an encouraging start, the bullfighting bosses might have expected more progress from the Thai driver, but unfortunately Albon failed utterly in his second season at Red Bull.

The only highlight of the 2020 championship for Alex was the first race of the season. At Spielberg, Albon could well have challenged for victory, but a collision with Hamilton late in the race ended Alex’s hopes of victory. In the next 16 races of the season, Albon, who had the second fastest car in the field, will only make the podium twice, miss the decisive qualifying segment three times and take a humiliating seventh place at the end of the championship. below Pérez (Racing Point), Ricciardo (Reno) and Sainz (McLaren).

A complete analysis of Red Bull’s personnel policy:

Red Bull doesn’t give racers a second chance. Are endless layoffs beneficial?

At Williams, Albon has improved on several important components

Albon’s failure forced the leadership of the bulls to rethink their own personal philosophy. The Austrians withdrew from the policy of protectionism in the formation of the pilot composition of the main team – Sergio Perez became a partner of Max Verstappen.

As for Albon, Alex was not only demoted to Alpha Tauri driver, but immediately went on the bench: he spent the 2021 season as a reserve for Red Bull, simultaneously playing in the DTM championship. In theory, this hiatus could well bury Albon’s formulaic career, especially considering how “frequently” Helmut Marko gives his “academics” a second chance. But fortunately for the Thai, he managed to return to F-1 the following season: Alex took the place of George Russell, who left Williams.

Alex Albon – the leader of the “Williams”

Photo: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Thus, Albon, in fact, got out of the “bull” system. The only thing that kept tying Alex to Red Bull was an option in the contract that allowed the bullfighters to use the services of Albon in 2023. As we can see, Red Bull decided not to return their pupil and, seeing the current situation of the personnel in the teams of the Austrian concern, it can be believed that this decision was wrong.

After returning to F-1, the Thai driver opened up from a completely different angle. Albon became much smarter and cooler, progressed a lot in terms of working with rubber, and also added defensive skills. Last season, Alex managed to finish in the top 10 three times, each time he had a perfect race.

Albon is even more successful this year, qualifying twice in the third qualifying segment in eight rounds, scoring points in Bahrain and also having a heroic run in Montreal, finishing in seventh place, Williams’ best result since the Belgian Grand Prix. of 2021. .

Other drivers who successfully restarted their F-1 careers:

Bottas and 6 other Formula 1 drivers who restarted their careers after failures

Red Bull canceled Albon too soon. Today, Alex would be useful “taurine”

Given Albon’s impressive progress, the gap to the Thai racer can be seen as a personal failure for Red Bull. Judge for yourself: instead of letting Alex calmly gain experience in the junior team, the Austrians transferred him to Red Bull as soon as possible, although the debutant was simply not ready for a new role. And after the natural failure of the immature pilot in the main team, the management of the ‘bulls’ couldn’t think of anything better than sending Alex to the reserve, although they could try to resume Albon’s ‘training’ in Alpha Tauri. .

Helmut Marko did not remember Alex at the end of last season, when the ‘bullfighting’ junior team was looking for a driver for next year. At that time, Albon already had a strong season with Williams behind him, and the Thai’s contract with Red Bull allowed him to activate the option for 2023, but the Bulls ignored his pupil this time. The Austrians preferred Nick de Vries to the healthy and advanced Albon.

As the first races of this season showed, the choice of Helmut Marko in favor of the Dutch driver was wrong: at the moment, de Vries is seen as perhaps the worst rider in the field. Partly due to Nick’s unconvincing results, Alpha Tauri is in last place in the team standings.

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In addition, we must not forget the figure of Albon in the context of the uncertain future of Sergio Pérez at Red Bull: the Mexican’s contract with the champion team expires at the end of 2024, and it is not certain that the bullfighter will extend the contract. With Czech Yes, Albon is not yet drawn to the role of Max Verstappen’s partner, but given the impressive progress of the Thai driver, it is quite possible that by 2025 Alex will only grow in level and experience in the main bull team.

However, Red Bull still has at least a year and a half to return to Albon’s bid. In turn, Alex must keep the bar set: progress and, from time to time, put in heroic races for Williams. In general, do everything that he already does.

Albon is one of the main characters of the Canadian Grand Prix:

Russell was wrong again and Verstappen is not the best driver of the weekend. Estimates for the Canadian Grand Prix

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Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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