Alexander Albon says he now feels more comfortable driving Red Bull’s 2019 Formula 1 car and believes his progress was reflected in his strong performance at the Japanese Grand Prix.

The British-born Thai driver led Red Bull’s charge on Sunday at Suzuka after teammate Max Verstappen was turned around at the first corner on the opening lap by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Albon ran in fifth for much of the race until he managed to leapfrog Carlos Sainz Jr’s McLaren up to fourth thanks to carrying out a two-stop strategy. He held onto the place to achieve his best finish in his fledgling F1 career to date.

“I’m happy with finishing fourth, I’m more happy with qualifying even though it was sixth!,” Albon said after the race in Japan.

“I’m starting to feel a bit more comfortable in the car now and even just doing the Pirelli test that I did on Monday helps with that so just more mileage in the car is always good for me.”

Albon managed to set an identical lap time to teammate Max Verstappen during qualifying as he secured sixth place on the grid at Suzuka, with the Dutchman in fifth.

“It’s getting there. Straightaway I just felt more comfortable in the car in FP1 and have the car a bit more under me and it felt like I could do what I wanted,” he explained.

“As soon as you get confident, that’s where the lap time is and I just felt really confident this weekend at a track where you need it, so it was a good day and a good weekend.”

Red Bull is set to make a decision on which driver will partner Verstappen at the team for next season following the Mexican Grand Prix at the end of the month.

Asked if he feels he has done enough to retain the second seat for 2020, Albon replied: “I’m just focusing on myself really and treating each weekend as it comes.

“I don’t want to think too much about that. Time will tell, that’s obviously the goal.”