Christian Horner was ‘very impressed’ with the debut Grand Prix with Red Bull Racing for Alexander Albon, with the Thai driver moving from seventeenth on the grid to finish an excellent fifth in Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.
Albon started towards the back of the grid after penalties were applied, which came his way courtesy of his Red Bull team changing his Honda power unit ahead of the weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, but, particularly in the second half of the race, he was a man on a mission and made his way through the field.
Horner, the Team Principal at Red Bull, said it was an impressive start to his Red Bull career for Albon, and some of the overtakes he performed were great to watch.
“I’ve been very impressed with Alex’s performance all weekend and he put in a great recovery drive from seventeenth on the grid to finish fifth in his first race with us,” said Horner.
“He was pretty cautious during the first half of the race as he felt his way into the Grand Prix, but things started to come alive for him on the softer compound tyre and he put in some great overtakes.”
Whereas Albon was impressing his team boss, team-mate Max Verstappen was the race’s first retirement, meaning his twenty-one-race run of finishing inside the top five ended in the Eau Rouge barriers. The Dutchman collided with Kimi Räikkönen on the opening turn of the race, breaking his suspension, which meant he was just a passenger as he hit the barriers a few seconds later.
“Max didn’t have a great start which meant he got boxed in at Turn 1 in the middle of the pack,” said Horner. “He made contact with Kimi mid-corner which resulted in a broken front track rod, ending his race.
“It was a frustrating racing incident but Max has completed over 20 consecutive races in the top five now and it’s just unfortunate that run ended at his home race.”
Horner, who helped build the BWT-Arden team that tragically saw Anthoine Hubert lose his life in the horror FIA Formula 2 crash on Saturday afternoon, said Formula 1 raced at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday with a heavy heart, and perhaps it was apt that a friend of Hubert’s, Charles Leclerc, was the victor of the race.
“It’s been a difficult 24 hours for the whole community, and everyone raced with a heavy heart,” admitted Horner. “Congratulations to Charles Leclerc, he drove a great race and it seems quite fitting that a close friend of Anthoine’s won here today.”