Red Bull 'would love to put a driver like Hulkenberg next to Verstappen but...'

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Dutch media is stirring the pot over Red Bull's second seat suggesting other reasons why the team can't replace Alex Albon.

After finishing third at Mugello, once again the Thai driver's performance is under scrutiny after a poor weekend at the Russian Grand Prix, which saw him struggle outside the points for much of the race before managing a late charge to claim 10th.

By contrast, teammate Max Verstappen split the Mercedes' in both qualifying and the race to claim Red Bull's first Sochi podium in second.

“Two weeks ago he was the hero of the team and he got his first podium and this weekend he was hopeless,” former F1 driver Robert Doornbos said of Albon via Ziggo Sport.

“When you finish a minute and a half behind your teammate in P10… It would have been a very difficult debrief for Albon, and I am curious about how many times he can still do that.

“It’s probably a very long discussion at Red Bull about who should drive the car in 2021. Pierre Gasly is, of course, waiting on the seat, but it’s a bit crazy to suddenly give him the seat in the middle of the season.”

Earlier in the weekend, however, Red Bull boss Christian Horner had once again voiced his support for the 24-year-old.

“Our intention is absolutely to retain our current drivers and Alex is our preferred choice,” he declared.

“He only feels vulnerable because you guys [the media] keep telling him every week that we should put somebody else in the car.

“He has got the full support of all the team. I think the team’s doing a good job with him, I think his race engineer is extracting more from him and I think that confidence is growing.”

“Inevitably, you have to be aware of what the other options are out there, but our absolute preference and likelihood is to retain the existing driver line-up that we currently have.”

Those other options would include drivers like Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg, as well as the more commonly mentioned Gasly, however...

“So far, we have stuck to our principle. For example, we didn’t take [Fernando] Alonso when it would have been possible,” Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko said.

“Instead, we have always promoted our juniors and gone our own way. [Sebastian] Vettel, Verstappen and [Daniel] Ricciardo won Grand Prix races so it is a successful path. With Verstappen, we have a truly exceptional talent.

Also Read:

“It has been written that there are no more new juniors, but we have Yuki Tsunoda, who is doing great in his first year in Formula 2. He had two technical failures. Without them, he would have as many points as [Robert] Schwartzman.

“Why should we suddenly go away from our philosophy just because somewhere a good man doesn’t have a cockpit?”

But another Ziggo Sport pundit, journalist Jack Plooj, believes there is a reason why the likes of Perez and Hulkenberg can't be considered as realistic choices.

”There’s a lot more going on these days and it’s no longer about being the fastest driver at all’,” he said on the F1 aan Tafel podcast.

”Helmut Marko sticks to his own talents for as long as possible. Of course, he would love to put a driver like Hulkenberg next to Verstappen, but then Dietrich Mateschitz closes Red Bull’s training programme.

SI201807011320 news

“Maybe he should take Tsunoda to Red Bull, do something crazy,” he added.

“These are considerations that Marko has to make, but I would like to see a strong driver next to Verstappen.”