Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says Alex Albon can be “too nice” for his own good, but believes the Thai driver’s first Formula 1 podium will boost his confidence.
After a difficult Italian Grand Prix in which he finished outside the points while the driver he replaced at Red Bull, Pierre Gasly, took a shock victory for the AlphaTauri B-team, Albon responded in ideal fashion by scoring his maiden podium with a well-judged drive to third at the Tuscan Grand Prix.
Albon, who had come close to podium finishes in the 2019 Brazilian GP and this year’s Austrian GP prior to clashes with Lewis Hamilton, pulled off a decisive move on former Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo around the outside of Turn 1, securing the first podium for a Red Bull driver other than Max Verstappen since Ricciardo’s Monaco GP victory in 2018.
After Albon made a point on the team radio of thanking the team for sticking with him, amid speculation that he would be replaced by the on-form Gasly, Horner told Sky Sports F1 that he was optimistic Albon will make great strides in the remainder of the season.
“The disadvantage is, if anything, he is too nice,” Horner said.
“But once he puts the helmet on you can see there is a real racer there.
“There is a big difference between thinking you can do it and knowing you can do it.
“This podium for him will give him a boost of confidence and self-belief. I think he really will build from here quite nicely.”
Horner added that one of the key qualities Red Bull has identified in Albon is his approach to technical matters, which has allowed him to win “the respect” of his engineers.
Albon has worked with Ricciardo’s former engineer Simon Rennie since the British GP as part of a team reshuffle designed to help him get the best out of the RB16’s unpredictable handling traits.
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“I think actually his feedback is very, very good,” Horner said.
“He has a really good sensitivity for the car and I think he has really won the respect of the engineers for that, so as that starts to come through, the developments that start to come through, I think that will only help him.
“Hopefully some of this instability of the rear that we have been having, which affects him and in fact Pierre last year, that Max isn’t really affected by, I think it will start to come his way a bit.”