Alex Albon will start the Sakhir Grand Prix from P12, and that didn’t go down well with Red Bull principal Christian Horner. The Thai driver has been underwhelming in 2020, but Red Bull are giving him all the way until after the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi to prove his worth.
But qualifying P12 around a sub-minute circuit with few corners, 0.379s slower than team-mate Max Verstappen wasn’t the best way to make an impression.
“It’s very much a Red Bull seat, or a year on the bench. So the focus is on giving him that opportunity,” Horner told reporters in Bahrain when speaking about Albon’s future before Free Practice 2.
“He’s got two races, he did a good job last weekend, being on the podium, his second podium in F1.
“He’s had a good first practice, a good start to the weekend here and two more weekends to demonstrate that he is absolutely the right guy to be in that car alongside Max [Verstappen] next year.
“And we’re giving him all the support that we possibly can to achieve that goal.”
But after squeezing through to Q2 Albon’s elimination in that session received a shake of the head from Horner, an action which arguably speaks much louder than any of those words.
Albon himself though was rather pleased with his P12 lap, so wants to understand where it went wrong.
“Frustrating one, honestly driving wise I was actually very happy with it,” he told reporters after his Q2 exit.
“So I need to understand where it went wrong, just very different to FP3 was the car.
“Tricky out there, obviously slipstreaming was really important as well.”
Albon has this season proven on Sundays that he isn’t afraid to get his elbows out and attack to make up positions, though he does fear getting caught in the DRS train around such a short track.
“It will be possible, it’s just about the DRS train,” he replied when asked about the possibility of overtaking during the Sakhir Grand Prix.
“It’s not as easy as you expect around here, but we’re on the higher side of downforce I would say against the others which makes it a little bit harder to overtake, but obviously we’ll hopefully be a little bit better on our side as well.”