The Red Bull young driver program is a bit of an enigma. On one hand, it provides top-level opportunities to its up-and-coming drivers. On the other, it can be a brutal, testing environment for these young drivers. Just ask Alex Albon, their most recent victim.
Only the cream survive and establish themselves at Red Bull – take the example of four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel and a similarly capable, Max Verstappen.
So, did Alex Albon not have any of the qualities of a Red Bull standard driver? Why did they replace him with Sergio Perez for the upcoming F1 season?
Alex Albon was inconsistent
The Thai driver could only muster half as many points as his teammate in 2020. Even though we never expected him to match Max’s tally, that is still simply not acceptable for a team that wishes to compete for the World Championship.
He did show some flashes though, like the one at the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP; but that was too little too late for him.
Sergio Perez was too good to give up for Red Bull
They might have given Albon another chance, if not for Sergio Perez‘s too-good-to-ignore form last season. The Mexican was a metronome behind the wheel at Racing Point and became available in the driver’s market.
“It was an unusual gift to have a driver like Sergio Perez on the market. We didn’t have to rush to act, we could sound out the whole season and analyze our driver situation. All in all, it made the most sense for us to team Sergio with Max,” said Horner.
Then, there are a wide variety of reasons for them to choose Perez as it. His brilliant race skills will help to keep the pressure on Max’s opponents while he quietly goes about accumulating vital championship points for them. Furthermore, his inane knowledge of Mercedes‘ engines is a huge bonus for them.
Although the RB16 was a difficult car to drive, lagging so much behind your teammate is never going to bode well for you. That is why Alex Albon was ultimately fired; and this time, it wasn’t an unpopular decision from the Red Bull management either.