Alexander Albon feels that having someone as fast as Max Verstappen as his team-mate will benefit him as he continues to find his feet within the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team in 2020.
The Anglo-Thai driver made the switch from Scuderia Toro Rosso to Red Bull during the summer break in 2019 and showed consistent pace, only missing out on his maiden podium finish in the Brazilian Grand Prix due to an incident with Lewis Hamilton on the penultimate lap.
Albon says having Verstappen as his team-mate will help speed up his learning process as he pushes to consolidate his position within Red Bull, although he knows closing the notable gap will be difficult.
“I think everyone knows he’s quick, everyone knows who he is,” Albon is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. “And yeah, it’s no different for me. I appreciate how quick he is. And it’s good for me.
“I feel like what better way to learn and to prepare myself than against pretty much one of, if not the fastest driver, on the grid. I think it’s a good way to speed up the learning process! And I see that as a positive, I see it as a good thing and a goal to chase and to close the gap.
“That’s what I want. For me it’s a good thing, because of his reputation. I see it as a way that I can show myself and prove myself.”
‘Everything’s Possible’ in Battle Against Verstappen – Albon
Despite the gap to Verstappen during his opening handful of races with the team, Albon does not feel the gap is insurmountable.
Where his team-mate has been a part of Red Bull since the fifth race of 2016, Albon himself is still finding his feet there, but he believes he can extract more from the car this season than he did in 2019.
“Everything’s possible,” said Albon. “There’s never a time when I’ve gone ‘oh Jesus, well, I’m going home!’.
“But yeah, of course, he’s very quick. And it is one of them things, it’s normal – when I am good in a corner, I know I’m quick in the corner, and it will generally be two hundredths, three hundredths quicker than him. That’s the kind of things that you’re dealing with. But nothing’s impossible.
“It’s just him being comfortable with the car. He’s spent a lot of years with the team and he knows how to extract all that time [from the car], whereas for me it’s still a bit of a learning process.”
For the first time in his career, Albon will go into the new season with the same team he ended the previous year, and he wants to come into the Australian Grand Prix in March near the front of the field.
“I need to be aware of where I am,” Albon is quoted as saying by Crash.net. “I’ve only had a year in F1 and less than half a season with the team, but the goal is to close the gap between me and Max.
“We want to start a bit stronger. The guys are already working flat out at the factory, we want to keep the pressure on Mercedes and Ferrari. I’m hoping we’ll come into Melbourne near the front.
“I’m feeling that next year will be a bit more normal. This year was my first year and it definitely wasn’t normal.”