Alexander Albon feels opening practice for each Formula 1 race weekend is “always a struggle” at the moment as he continues to adjust to Red Bull’s car following his mid-season promotion from Toro Rosso.

Albon was promoted from Toro Rosso into a seat with the senior Red Bull team just 12 races into his rookie F1 season, replacing the struggling Pierre Gasly from the Belgian Grand Prix onwards.

Albon has made a solid start to life with Red Bull, scoring two P5 and two P6 finishes in his first four races, with his charge to fifth in Russia coming from the pit lane after crashing out in qualifying.

The Anglo-Thai racer said after last Sunday’s race in Sochi that he could feel himself growing increasingly comfortable in the Red Bull RB15 car – but that opening practice remained tricky as he got to grips at each new circuit.

“It feels like at the moment, FP1 is always a struggle,” Albon said.

“It gets better through the weekend, and by the end of the weekend it’s more or less OK. I just need to get into that rhythm and speed earlier in the weekend.

“It will come, just more laps. [Russia] was a tough weekend, truthfully, but I’m happy with the progress.”

Albon’s learning curve will be steepened by the fact that he has only driven on one of the remaining five circuits on the F1 calendar this year – Abu Dhabi – with next week’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka marking an important race for Red Bull’s engine partner, Honda.

“I think only Abu Dhabi of the upcoming races will be a track I’ve been to,” Albon said.

“I know [Suzuka] is not an easy track to learn, as well as still learning the car, but I’m up for it.”

 

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