Red Bull Racing wanted to keep Alexander Albon for the 2021 season, but Team Principal Christian Horner said the decision to replace him with Sergio Pérez was decided by his on-track performances.
Albon finished only twice on the podium during 2020, with third place finishes coming in the Tuscan and Bahrain Grand Prix, whereas team-mate Max Verstappen was twice a winner and nine further times a podium finisher.
Verstappen ended the year third in the Drivers’ Championship, just nine points away from Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team’s Valtteri Bottas, while Albon was a lowly seventh with less than half the amount of points of his team-mate.
Pérez’s performances with the BWT Racing Point Formula One Team, including his superb victory in the Sakhir Grand Prix, were impossible for Red Bull to ignore, so it was decided to bring in the Mexican for next season.
“Max’s 2021 team-mate has been a matter for debate and at times something that has yielded intense questioning and external pressure for Alex,” Horner is quoted as saying by Racer.com. “He handled this extremely well and it impressed me how much strength, resilience and class he has displayed throughout.
“All of us wanted to see Alex retain the seat for 2021. We therefore made the decision to evaluate the performances at the end of the season with a full set of data. Looking at the delta between our two drivers and given Sergio’s strong performances, particularly in the second half of the year, we made the decision that Sergio had earned the 2021 seat.”
Despite dropping Albon, Horner says the Anglo-Thai driver remains an important part of Red Bull, with his focus being on aiding the development of the 2022 Red Bull as well as being the reserve driver in 2021.
“Alex remains an important part of the team and will focus on 2022 development and of course making himself a contender for a future race seat,” said Horner. “He is also one of the most humble drivers we have ever worked with and a highly regarded member of the team.
“We have decided to go outside of the program for the first time since 2007 but we need to field the strongest team possible in order to take the fight to Mercedes. Sergio’s experience will be crucial next season and we look forward to welcoming him to the team.”