Alexander Albon will see out the Formula 1 season at Red Bull despite another tough afternoon in Portugal on Sunday, team boss Christian Horner confirmed.
He had said on Friday that Albon needed to bounce back in Portugal and at the following race at Imola to make the seat his for the future.
Otherwise, he said, the team would look outside the Red Bull pool of drivers for a replacement.
Albon finished 12th at the Algarve circuit, after starting sixth, while teammate Max Verstappen was again on the podium in third place. To add to his difficulties, the Thai was lapped by the Dutchman.
“We´re committed to Alex for this year. Everybody in the team wants him to lay claim to the seat next year,” said Horner. “He´s a great guy, we believe he does have talent. He´s still only in the second year of Formula 1. And it´s tough.
“It´s mentally tough, it´s tough-going up against Max. He´s showed he can bounce back previously and I really hope for him that he can bounce back from a difficult weekend here in Imola next weekend.”
Albon is now 98 points behind Verstappen in the championship, with Red Bull a distant second to champions Mercedes.
The team have said they need both drivers to score strong points if they are to mount a serious challenge to Mercedes in future.
Nico Hulkenberg would be available immediately, having already acted as a stand-in at three races for Racing Point, while that team’s Mexican Sergio Perez has yet to find a seat for 2021.
Horner said Red Bull would have to make a decision in the next few weeks on who would partner Verstappen next year and was not worried about Perez or Hulkenberg becoming unavailable.
“I think any of those drivers would obviously pick Red Bull as a priority over any other seat so I would imagine they would wait to see what the decision is,” he said.