Red Bull boss Christian Horner believes Alexander Albon will “only get stronger” after ignoring the “external criticism” prior to taking his maiden Formula 1 podium.
Albon joined Red Bull mid-2019, following half a year at Toro Rosso, but has struggled to get on terms with team-mate Max Verstappen.
Albon has yet to out-qualify Verstappen and finished behind him at each event in which both have reached the chequered flag.
But upon Formula 1’s inaugural visit to Mugello Albon joined Verstappen on the second row of the grid and bounced back from a poor start to emerge in podium contention.
Albon took the final standing restart from fourth and went on to overhaul Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo to seize his maiden podium.
“It’s fantastic to see Alex take his first F1 podium,” said Horner.
“He’s done a great job all weekend and he had to pass some tough competitors to fight his way back through the field after a couple of difficult starts.
“All credit to him because he hasn’t let the negativity or external criticism get him down, he’s picked himself up and put in a first-class performance.
“I think this podium will give him a boost of confidence and self-belief and I’m sure he will only get stronger from here.”
Albon’s podium marked the first time that a team-mate of Verstappen has finished in the top three of a grand prix since Ricciardo’s Monaco triumph in 2018.
Albon moved into fifth place in the Drivers’ Championship, on 63 points, two behind McLaren’s Lando Norris.