Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko claims Lewis Hamilton told Red Bull team boss Christian Horner in 2019 that they should drop Pierre Gasly for Alexander Albon, just weeks before they eventually did.
Gasly struggled to match Max Verstappen’s results in the opening half of last year, and after just 12 rounds he was dropped by the team, instead demoted to Toro Rosso, with Albon taking the Frenchman’s seat.
Marko claims Hamilton suggested such a move to Horner before Red Bull did just that.
“The truth is Lewis spoke to our team boss Christian Horner on the plane and recommended that Albon be put in the car instead of Gasly. That was before the swap was carried out by us after the summer break,” he told Germany’s Sport1.de.
“The one he wanted to get rid of last summer has now won the Italian Grand Prix with our AlphaTauri team – so much for his expertise!
“I have no idea why Hamilton always feels compelled to get involved, but it doesn’t matter to us what opinion people from the outside have.”
Gasly won last weekend’s Italian GP in spectacular fashion and was congratulated by Hamilton in person and on social media, with Gasly describing his praise “unbelievable”.
“For me Lewis is a very special guy, someone I really looked at when I was a kid and in my eyes is probably the best driver we ever had in F1.
“So when I heard the words he said it’s obviously very touching and unbelievable, because for me it feels strange because these guys I looked at since I’m 10 years old and was always a great example to follow and now I’m racing with him and he’s talking this way about me.”
Gasly went on to suggest he’d like to be rewarded with a seat at Red Bull again, but Marko quashed such ideas, insisting the 24-year-old should continue to lead the AlphaTauri team, which is expected to hire F2 rookie Yuki Tsunoda for ’21 to replace Daniil Kvyat.
“These are not our plans,” he replied when asked about Gasly going back to Red Bull. “We want to make AlphaTauri even stronger in the future and that includes Gasly – they need a strong team leader.”
Marko went on to defend Albon’s performance this year, even admitting the team are partly to blame for his struggles.
“Everyone falls away against Max. But the criticism of Albon is not entirely fair. He was unlucky this year and we made strategic mistakes that affected his performance.”