Red Bull team boss Christian Horner insists he does not see any risk from the decision to promote Alexander Albon for the remainder of the 2019 Formula 1 season.

The British-Thai driver has been fast-tracked into the Red Bull senior team just 13 grands prix into his F1 career to replace the underperforming Pierre Gasly for the final nine races of the campaign.

Having swapped seats with Gasly, Albon will make his race debut for the Milton Keynes squad alongside new teammate Max Verstappen at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.

Asked if he feels the move is risky, Horner replied: “I don’t think so.

“I think the way that the drivers are arriving in Formula 1 now, they are so much better prepared from lower formulas, from the simulators, the years they spend in karting.

“You can see from how quickly Max got into Formula 1, and everybody said it was too soon, it was too early, blah blah blah, and he delivered.

"I think that’s very much the world we live in today. I think the drivers do arrive better prepared, and it’s really dependent on the risk appetite that a team has whether it’s prepared to invest in youth.

“And for us, investing in youth over the years, we would never have found [Sebastian] Vettel, we would never have found Verstappen, we would never have had [Daniel] Ricciardo.

“Arguably Carlos Sainz wouldn’t have had his opportunity if we hadn’t invested in that youth. The same with Alex and [Daniil] Kvyat and obviously Gasly as well.

“If we hadn’t have taken that risk on youngsters previously, they would never have come through, they would never have delivered for us,” he added.

“I think [Charles] Leclerc’s doing a pretty decent job at Ferrari. Albon’s done a decent job or Toro Rosso, they’re higher in the constructors than they’ve been for over 10 years.

“It’s very easy to be conservative. You have to be a bit braver and a bit more ambitious sometimes to take the risk and then take the risk with a youngster.”

Albon finished just a tenth behind Verstappen in his first outing for Red Bull during opening practice in Belgium on Friday, before ending the day in 10th as he switched focus onto race-day set-up with a penalty looming following Honda’s latest engine upgrade.

Horner said Red Bull expects to see progression from Albon as he beds himself into the team during the last nine rounds of the season.

“The car is capable of delivering podiums, so that has to be our target, to be challenging and pushing for podiums,” Horner said.

“[We want] to see progression in these remaining nine races. Let’s see where we are in Abu Dhabi, and then we’ve got a much clearer picture.

“I think it’s slightly less pressurised weekend which is probably a good thing for him, and really it will be from next weekend that they will be on equal strategies.”



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