Red Bull Formula 1 chief Christian Horner says Alexander Albon has left a “very favourable impression” on the entire team with an impressive debut display at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Having swapped seats with the underperforming Pierre Gasly and been fast-tracked up to the Red Bull senior team after just 12 grands prix, Albon turned in a strong performance at Spa.

Albon was forced to start towards the rear of the grid due to an engine penalty but rose from 17th, pulling off some brilliant overtakes on the likes of former Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez en route to sealing a fifth place finish and his career-best result.

“Alex has impressed me all weekend with his approach, his feedback, his pace,” Horner said.

“In the race he did a very mature job. The first half of the race we weren’t quite as competitive on the harder tyre as we were on the softer tyre but he didn’t make any silly mistakes or take any silly risks. He just dialled himself in.

“I said to him on the grid, ‘I think the car will come alive in the second half of the race’. It certainly did in the second half of the race, we know Daniel’s a tough racer… his move on Daniel, his move on Sergio on the last lap were impressive. To go from P18 to P5 was a very good start.

“I think it was an encouraging start for him,” he added. "Hopefully he’ll have a clean weekend with a straightforward qualifying in Monza.

“But certainly he’s made a very favourable impression with the engineering team and in the garage. Certainly a good start.”

Albon insisted he was keen to treat the weekend like any other and has already targeted self-improvements for next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

“To be honest it didn’t seem like a bigger deal to get through,” he explained. “This weekend really I think is more the background stuff that has been hyping up the weekend more than myself.

“On my side I’ve just been focusing on it like a normal weekend and getting down to my business. Of course you still want to do well and have a good first race, and I’m quite happy with how it went.

“I do definitely think there’s some areas to work on, though. Just heads down really, I’ve got a few days to focus on Monza.”

The result has lifted the British-born Thai driver up to 10th place in the championship standings on 26 points. 

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