Red Bull Formula 1 team principal Christian Horner says he struggles to understand why Alex Albon is being criticised amid a difficult start to the season for the team. 

While teammate Max Verstappen has claimed two podium finishes from the opening three rounds of the delayed 2020 season, Albon has endured a tricker start to the campaign. 

The Anglo-Thai racer was taken out of podium contention by Lewis Hamilton in the season-opener, finished a distant fourth in the second race in Austria, before a tricky qualifying left him 13th on the grid for the Hungarian Grand Prix. 

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But Albon recovered strongly in the race to charge to a fifth-place finish, capping off a strong result for Red Bull as Verstappen split the dominant Mercedes duo in second. 

“We’re very pleased,” Horner said. “It’s been a difficult weekend for Alex - the car spec has been changing a lot from session to session and when you haven’t got the experience that’s harder to deal with. 

“In the race, when he managed to find his rhythm, his pace was very, very good, comparable with Max. His overtaking was strong against the Ferraris, I think he did a super job. 

“And if you look at his pace in clear air, it was pretty decent. We’re very satisfied with Alex’s performance.”

Albon’s early season struggles had sparked some suggestions that Red Bull might replace him with the out-of-contract four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel for 2021, though Horner has repeatedly poured cold water on such talk. 

Asked if he had been impressed by Albon’s resilience and ability to bounce back from adversity, Horner replied: “He’s had a tough start to the year in that we haven’t given him a car that’s suited him, and Max’s ability to drive around problems sometimes masks them. 

“I actually think that Alex has driven very well in the races this year and hopefully as we improve the car, the Saturdays will improve. But his race-craft and his race pace, I think he’s done a great job. 

“I struggle to understand any criticism of him.”