Between DTM and F1, Albon at the crossroads

Exiled to the DTM in 2021, Alexander Albon was cast into the shadow of his replacement Sergio Pérez, who has had a string of solid results. He retains the trust of Red Bull and capitalizes on his role at the factory to return in the near future. 

Published on 28/06/2021 à 10:09

Medhi Casaurang

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Between DTM and F1, Albon at the crossroads

Alex Albon at the start of the 2021 DTM in Monza (Italy). © Red Bull Content Pool

La Formula 1 sets down his bags for two weeks on the side of Red Bull Ring in Austria. MaybeAlexander albon will painfully relive this missed podium opportunity in Styria. A year ago, the Thai, propelled holder at Red Bull replacing Pierre Gasly, was sent spinning by Lewis Hamilton a stone's throw from the goal.

On July 5, 2020, most observers saw the 24-year-old young man as the future star of sport. It was certain, the podium and victory were going to land in his pocket in a few races.



However, Alexander Albon waited until the ninth round, in Mugello (Italy) to get on the box (3rd), a result that he will repeat in Bahrain in the fall... and that's it. The London native concluded the exercise in seventh place, with almost the same number of points as the previous year when he played half the time at Toro Rosso (92 steps in 2019, 105 in 2020).

Beyond the numbers, Alexander Albon suffered from the comparison with his teammate Max Verstappen. When the Dutchman fought fiercely against the Mercedes, signing 11 podiums including two successes (3rd with 214 pts), his colleague seemed timid and overwhelmed by events.

This passive attitude was expressed through several incidents. At the Nürburgring (Germany), he launched on the radio “They race me so hard.”, which can be translated as "They (the opponents) don’t give me any favors.” A statement that did not please his bosses Christian Horner and Helmut Marko, who love combative, even surly, spirits.

A few weeks later, he spun alone in the final laps of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, causing the definitive loss of any chance of a Manufacturers' title for his team.



The risk for Alexander Albon now lies in the anonymization of the DTM. Certainly tough, the German touring championship could turn into a siding for the former Thai hopeful in the event of poor performance. He is also not helped by his partial program, the Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo being shared with Nick Cassidy on some sleeves. He will have to make an impression without delay to show his employer that he has regained his “racing” mentality.

Another aspect working against him: his replacement Sergio Pérez perfectly fulfills the mission incumbent on him. The 31-year-old Mexican, undoubtedly less “bankable” than a youngster from the Red Bull fold, was quick to make a place for himself despite the overwhelming influence of Max Verstappen in the garage.

After just seven races, here he is already Grand Prix winner (in Azerbaijan) and third in the general classification. Even more importantly, it helps Red Bull in the ongoing battle with Mercedes in the Manufacturers' standings. Indeed, it is very often the result of car no. 2 which determines the overall result of the Anglo-Austrian team. Since the departure of Daniel Ricciardo in 2018, it experienced great difficulty in threatening Ferrari or Mercedes; a forgotten memory in 2021. As a result, it is hard to imagine Red Bull officials continuing the game of musical chairs.

However, this relegation may only be temporary. Recent examples of F1 drivers being ousted before returning through the window are legion. Romain Grosjean fell to FIA GT1 and AutoGP before returning through GP2, Nico Hulkenberg spent a year as a tester with Force India despite his pole position in Brazil for Williams or Daniil Kvyat was forgotten for a year before Toro Rosso recalled him.


In addition, shadow work could save him more as the results on track. The 2016 GP3 Series runner-up continues to travel to Milton Keynes (Great Britain) as a reserve and simulator driver in the Red Bull factory. At 25, Alexander Albon's career is certainly not over, but if he wants to return to F1, it would be better not to accumulate seasons in GT.

Medhi Casaurang

Passionate about the history of motorsport across all disciplines, I learned to read thanks to AUTOhebdo. At least that's what my parents tell everyone when they see my name inside!

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