Red Bull find themselves at a bit of a crossroads as to who to appoint to their second seat for 2021. There is no doubt that Max Verstappen is their number one driver, but they are yet to find a second driver who can battle for the top positions with Max and consistently haul in a sizable amount of points each weekend. At the moment Alex Albon occupies that seat, but is yet to really claim the place for the next season.
It is fair to say that Albon has not had the best of seasons. Red Bull clearly have the second best car on the grid with Ferrari struggling, yet Alex has struggled throughout and sits only 8th ahead of this weekend’s Grand Prix at Imola. Verstappen has consistently been on the podium, challenging the two Mercedes every weekend, but finds himself usually coming third without any help from his teammate. And you can argue that Albon has been very unlucky on occasion, with the incident with Hamilton in Austria coming to mind. But lets be honest, apart from that he has performed poorly, even his podium was extremely lucky, with a large portion of the grid retiring and two red flags having a huge influence over the race. Without having Albon placing in the top four on a regular basis, Red Bull’s title challenge has diminished into almost nothing, with Mercedes having all but won the championship this season with plenty of races left to go.
So what are Red Bull to do? It seems that Christian Horner and the Red Bull team have put their faith in Albon, saying that they really want him to claim the seat for next season. There must be something they see in Albon which they like, otherwise he would have been demoted, just like Gasly before him. But if they are to get the rewards they want, and Albon continues along the path he is on, surely they will have to look elsewhere.
One option they have is to promote Gasly again, he has put in some stellar performances this season, being the only driver outside Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen to win a Grand Prix. He currently sits 9th in the championship, only a point behind Albon, in the far inferior Alpha Tauri. However, it would seem that Gasly has dedicated at least the next season to Alpa Tauri having recently signed a contract with the team for 2021. And Red Bull have made it quite clear that they are not looking to promote Gasly just yet. Perhaps they don’t want to seem as if they are admitting they are wrong about Gasly by swapping the two drivers back, or maybe they have another back up plan if they decide not to offer Albon the seat for next season.
There are plenty of options available to Red Bull if they decide to recruit externally, both Perez and Hulkenberg are without a seat for 2021- could we see one of them accompanying Verstappen next year? Personally I am leaning more towards Hulkenberg, he has really impressed during the two races he has competed in this season, it was remarkable how he has managed to come into a completely new team, an unfamiliar car and on a track he has had minimal practice on and win driver of the day.
Could we see someone other than Albon racing for Red Bull in 2021? I think it could be highly likely. Albon really has not been the force the team need. If they are going to win championships again they need a team out on track, not a one man show in Verstappen. Unless Albon starts to improve his performances over the last few races, Red Bull will have to look elsewhere in order to challenge Mercedes. Who they will pick to do this is still very much up for discussion.
What do you think Red Bull should do? Does Albon deserve his seat for next season? Let me know in a comment below!
Featured image from Red Bull Racing’s Facebook page