Red Bull’s Alexander Albon was made to “look stupid” during the Spanish Grand Prix, according to team advisor Helmut Marko, who placed the blame on his race engineer.
Albon has struggled to get on top of the RB16 and trails team-mate Max Verstappen by 55-points, but his performance in Barcelona was particularly poor as he slipped from sixth on the grid to eighth come the chequered flag, as McLaren’s Carlos Sainz and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel overhauled him.
Simon Rennie returned as Albon’s race engineer ahead of the Spanish GP, replacing Mike Lugg, as the team hoped an engineer with more experience would assist the Anglo-Thai racer in moving past his recent struggles.
However Marko was less than pleased with the strategy on Albon’s side of the garage after he was put into traffic following his first stop, which severely hampered his progress.
“The performance in Barcelona including the strategy is on the head of his race engineer,” Marko told SpeedWeek. “Alex looked stupid, but it was not because of his fault.”
Asked if Albon’s seat is under threat, given Marko’s famous lack of patience with underperforming drivers, the Austrian replied: “It was his worst race, but as long as he keeps going [forward] he is out of that discussion.”
Team boss Christian Horner is standing by Albon, believing the 24-year-old has the pace, but needs a more stable car to extract the maximum.
“He is a very deep thinking driver rather than a seat of the pants driver, so he is trying to understand the car and he is very sensitive to what the car is doing.
“So I think with Alex, it’s time in the seat and it’s getting himself comfortable.”
Marko meanwhile isn’t happy with Daniil Kvyat’s recent form, but insisted he is safe for now.
“Daniil is not performing as we expected. But we’re still just before half-season. We are not thinking of exchanging Kvyat.”
Kvyat has scored just two points compared to team-mate Pierre Gasly’s 14.