Red Bull 'committed' to Albon despite torrid Portuguese GP

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Red Bull insists Alex Albon will not be replaced despite a miserable Portuguese Grand Prix on Sunday.

Starting sixth, the Thai driver fell outside the top 10 in the drizzly conditions on the opening lap and would not recover, eventually crossing the line in 12th.

“The first lap I was all over the place really," Albon told Sky Sports. 

"For some of the teams the tyres switched on, McLaren, and Kimi, Kimi was flying. It was as if he was driving a different track compared to all of us.

"It was just really tricky on those first three laps. That’s really where I lost the positions.

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“Once the tyres were up to temperature, the car was actually really good," he added. "But I spend the rest of the race under a gearbox of another car.

"We knew it was going to be hard to overtake here, but I was struggling a lot in the last corner, so I could never really stay that close to have an opportunity to overtake in Turn 1."

Worsening Albon's woes, he would finish a full lap down on teammate Max Verstappen just a few days after Red Bull boss Christian Horner urged Alex to "justify" keeping his place next season.

“Obviously it’s been a difficult race for him,” Horner commented post-race.  “We need to look at all the data, all the information and try to understand why.

"For example, his tyre wear for example was significantly higher, but plenty to look at, plenty to understand and obviously he’ll need to bounce back in less than a week’s time."

One of the drivers named as a possible alternative for Albon in 2021 is Nico Hulkenberg, who is of course currently acting as reserve driver at Racing Point having already driven in three races this year.

The German was also present at Portimao, but the Red Bull chief ruled out any possibility of dropping Albon before this season is over.

Hulk Albon

“We’re committed to Alex for this year,” he added. “Everybody in the team wants him to lay claim to the seat next year.

“He’s a great guy, we believe he does have talent. He’s still only in his second year of Formula 1 and it’s tough.

“It’s mentally tough, it’s tough going up against Max. He’s showed he can bounce back previously and I really hope for him that he can bounce back from a difficult weekend here in Imola next weekend.”

Time is running out, however, for Albon with Red Bull understood to be targeting the Turkish GP to make a decision.

“There’s not so many races left in the season and it’s getting to that time of year where we need to start thinking about next year, obviously,” Horner said.

“So I think within the next few weeks we’re going to have to make a decision. So obviously we know what all the options are.”