Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes Alexander Albon can leave Brazil with his “head held high” despite the heartbreak of missing out on his maiden Formula 1 podium.

Albon turned in a strong drive at Interlagos and looked set to claim his first-ever podium finish running in a Red Bull 1-2 behind race-winner Max Verstappen, until a tangle with world champion Lewis Hamilton on the penultimate lap dropped him to 14th.

Hamilton immediately apologised to Albon for the collision and admitted the incident had been “completely my fault”. Despite the disappointment, Red Bull boss Horner reckons Albon can be proud of his performance.

“He looked really comfortable racing world champions and it was a huge shame for him to lose that podium on the penultimate lap,” Horner said.

"Lewis has obviously put his hand up and apologised but unfortunately it doesn’t get Alex’s podium back, but he can leave here with his head held high.

“OK, he didn’t get the trophy but he’s impressed the whole team with his performance and again, it’s an encouraging signal for next year.”

Albon was promoted to Red Bull just 12 races into his F1 career as a direct replacement for the underperforming Pierre Gasly.

Until Sunday’s race at Sao Paulo, the British-born Thai driver had been enjoying a run of consecutive top-six finishes that had helped him seal a full-time seat with the Milton Keynes squad for 2020.

Asked if Red Bull has now seen clear improvements from Albon, Horner replied: “I think it’s very clear for everyone to see.

"He’s now racing wheel-to-wheel with Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel and Ferraris and he’s making great progress. He’s impressed his whole team with his race craft.”

 

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