Christian Horner has backed Alex Albon for his aggression in the closing stages of the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix despite seeing a long-awaited maiden podium scuppered by Lewis Hamilton once again.

After a slightly anonymous start to the 2020 F 1opener, Albon qualified well in fourth position and circulated in a fairly comfortably third position until the closing stages when a late pit-stop under the safety car saw him lose P3 to Sergio Perez.

However, with Albon snatching it back immediately at the restart, it meant he was poised to attack an ailing Lewis Hamilton for second at the next safety car getaway.

And so it proved, Albon carrying more speed into Turn 4 around the outside, getting the nose of the Red Bull RB16 far enough ahead only to be tagged by Hamilton and spun into the gravel trap, an incident that earned him a five-second post-race penalty that dropped him from second to fourth.

Demoting Albon to the back of the field before retiring altogether, Horner was pleased to see Albon demonstrating an impressive turn of speed when it mattered and was left baffled as to why Hamilton couldn’t have ceded it rather than ruin the Thai driver’s race and hamper his own.

“Alex didn't have the straight-line speed, so he knew he had, with the grip advantage, to pass him in or out of a corner. As far as he was concerned, the job was done. He was starting to look down the road towards Valtteri [Bottas] when Lewis put a wheel on the inside. So, I think it is more perhaps Lewis that the questions should be asked on what he would do differently.

“Alex had won the corner, and he was on the exit of the corner. Why Lewis needed to stick a wheel in there, I have no idea. It’s obviously frustrating for Alex that this is the second time in three races that this has happened to him. It was unfortunate, because I think he would have had a chance to win the race.”

Unfortunately for Red Bull, the step forward it has made with its RB16 package has been negated by Mercedes once again pushing the benchmark with its W11. Nonetheless, Horner says the engineers will keep working to claw back that gap yet again.

“They have done a good job over the winter and we saw that in preseason testing, and engine wise they are looking strong as well. But I think we have got pace as well in RB16 and the fact that we were managed to run in a comfortable second with Max [before the retirement] is encouraging. We need to sort out the balance issues that we had in qualifying and come back stronger next weekend.”

 

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