Horner: Very impressed with Alex’s performance all weekend

If they were looking for a street-fighter to partner Max Verstappen at Red Bull, they may well have found one as Alex Albon emerged as cool character as he carved his way from 17th on the grid to fifth when the chequered flag wave in his debut for the Blues at the Belgian Grand Prix.

His racecraft was of the highest order for someone so inexperienced, the way he carved up Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez without pausing his astonishing surge through he field, in stark contrast to Pierre Gasly who struggled to overtake the race-winning RB15.

Indeed it is still early days, but it was a solid debut and the unassuming 23-year-old got full marks for his efforts on a morbid Sunday at Spa-Francorchamps.

Albon made a “great” first impression on his new team boss Christian Horner. Just 12 races into his F1 career, the former Toro Rosso driver was drafted into Red Bull’s senior team to replace struggling Pierre Gasly from Spa.

Red Bull says it will choose between Albon, Gasly and Daniil Kvyat to be Max Verstappen’s full-time 2020 teammate.

Horner reported after the race, “I’ve been very impressed with Alex’s performance all weekend and he put in a great recovery drive from 17th on the grid to finish fifth in his first race with us.

“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,” noted the Red Bull team boss.

However, it was actually a difficult induction weekend for the Thai driver, after an engine change meant he had to start from the back of the grid.

“From P17 to P5 was a very good way to start. In the race, he was very mature and didn’t do anything silly. Hopefully, he can perform well for the whole weekend in Monza.”

More generally, it was a difficult event for Red Bull, with Verstappen struggling with a Honda engine problem throughout the weekend.

Horner said: “We tested the Spec 4 engine with Kvyat on Friday and what we saw was encouraging.

“The problem with Max arose because his engine was very aggressive, but we could have fought the Mercedes in the race,” he added, referring to Verstappen’s early crash.

As for Monza, Horner said: “We will probably use the new engine at Monza, but we’re not sure yet. We’re discussing that with Honda.” (With GMM input)

Big Question: What did you make of Alex’s debut for Red Bull?