Max Verstappen believes retaining Alexander Albon as his Red Bull teammate for the 2020 season was “the smartest way of continuing” following the team’s announcement earlier this week.

Albon was promoted into a Red Bull seat for the Belgian Grand Prix at the end of August in place of the struggling Pierre Gasly after impressing in his opening 12 Formula 1 races with Toro Rosso.

Albon has scored points in all seven of his appearances so far for Red Bull, and was officially confirmed at the team for 2020 on Tuesday.

Asked how happy he was to be continuing with Albon, Verstappen said: “He’s a nice guy. I think for him, the last 12 months have been a bit of a rollercoaster.

“Of course, he’s very laid back, very relaxed, and people like him in the team. He’s easy-going, which I think helps.

“He’s quick, he’s doing his job, he’s getting the points.

“I think it was the smartest way of continuing.”

Albon has been praised for how closely he has matched Verstappen so early in his time at Red Bull, outscoring the Dutchman over the last seven races.

Verstappen made a similar splash himself when he was promoted from Toro Rosso to Red Bull four races into the 2016 season, winning on debut.

Verstappen explained that while it was quick to get up to speed even when adjusting to a new car and team, it took time to gain confidence on dictating setup direction.

“I think lap time is there straightaway,” Verstappen said. “I think you would get there through the weekend. I think in qualifying, you’re always on the limit.

“I would say from my first race to now, you are in a much more comfortable situation where you know the car more or less, you work with the same people, so you know easier which way you can go with the setups and stuff.

“When I just joined in Red Bull, I was first of all listening and following Daniel [Ricciardo] for direction a bit more. Of course you have your own driving style, so you’re anyway always different, but I didn’t know what certain things on the car could do, because it’s different to a Toro Rosso.

“I think over the years, I know what I want from the car, what we are going to change. I think only on that side, it makes the weekend a little bit easier to work with.

“But in terms of pace, I think it was pretty much there from the first weekend.”

Additional reporting by Julianne Cerasoli.

 

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