Christian Horner on Re-Signing Albon – “It’s Still Early Days.”
As the 2019 season heads towards it’s conclusion in the next couple of months, a lot of eyes have already focused to what’s to come in 2020 and beyond. Several teams have solidified their line-up already, but Red Bull Racing is not among those yet.
Max Verstappen is expected to return to the team in 2020, currently ranked fourth in the standings with two wins and six podiums to his credit. The focus now shifts to who will join him on the grid next season.
“It’s still early days,” team principal Christian Horner said. “I think the privileged position that we’re in as Red Bull with the ownership of two teams is that we don’t have to make any firm decision about who partners Max until the end of the year. They’re all under contract to Red Bull, all of the drivers, so we’ll take our time to make sure we make all the evaluations in readiness for next year.”
Horner has been no stranger to moving drivers between the Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso, including mid-season swaps as he feels necessary. Following the 12th event of 2019, he moved Alexander Albon to Red Bull, with Pierre Gasly taking the backseat to Toro Rosso.
Currently, Albon has made the most of the opportunity given to him, earning 17 more points than Verstappen in the five races since the swap to currently rank eighth in the standings. However, he is not the highest ranked driver of the foursome currently, as Gasly sits seventh with Daniil Kvyat in 12th with just one podium in 2019.
“I think he’s doing a very good job,” Horner said. “You have to remember this is his first season in Formula One. He’s up against an incredibly tough team-mate in Max and he hasn’t had the benefit of a bunch of testing or anything like that, so I think he’s equipped himself and adapted well. His feedback shows a very strong understanding of the car – and as he gains confidence on circuits he’s visiting for the first time, he’s certainly impressed the whole team with his attitude, his application and his performance so far.”
Regardless the direction that Red Bull Racing, you could argue there is a strong future in mind as they’re surrounded by youth, compared to their counterparts in Mercedes and Ferrari. Verstappen may be the team leader, but he is just in his fifth year of competition at the age of 22.
“I think that it’s incredible to think that Max has only just turned 22 years of age and he’s about to celebrate his 100th Grand Prix, which is a remarkable record already,” Horner said. “I think he’s doing a great job. You can see that the experience of those 99 races is really serving him well. I think he’d probably only done about 25 races in cars before he arrived in Formula One so all his learning has been very much under the scrutiny of the media and I think he’s dealt with that incredibly well. He’s extremely well rounded now; he’s almost a veteran!”
Now the only question remains – will Albon impress enough to be partnered with Verstappen in 2020?
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