Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner is hopeful Alexander Albon will “play a role“ in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.
The Thai-British driver will start from fifth on the grid on the Soft tyres, while team-mate and pole-sitter Max Verstappen, as well as the Mercedes duo, will start on the Mediums.
Although he will line-up behind McLaren’s Lando Norris, Horner anticipates that Albon will be fast at the start of the race and get in the mix towards the front.
“He’s going to be quick at the start,” Horner told Sky Sports F1. “I think Alex has done a decent job in the quali.
“It’s as close as he’s been, certainly in the last four or five races. I think the race pace on the Soft versus the Medium, it hasn’t quite got the distance but it has the pace early on.
“If he has a good start then he can play a role in tomorrow’s race.”
Albon’s first run in Q3 saw him go narrowly slower than Verstappen, however he failed to improve on his final run, revealing he overheated the tyres at the first corner.
Nevertheless, Albon believes it was one of his best sessions of the year, as he felt he was able to attack with the car.
“If you lay it all down, it’s one of the best qualifying sessions I’ve had this year,” Albon said. “It feels like things have been going on the up, this weekend as well, it started off pretty strong and it’s been getting better and better.
“We’ve made some changes on the car throughout the year, this weekend has really started to feel… it’s the most comfortable I’ve felt in the car, which sounds strange, being the last race of the year.
“I felt like I could properly exploit the grip. In a weird way it’s frustrating. Q3, run one was good. I went wide in Turn 1 [on the second run], not wide so it cost me lap time, just these tyres are so sensitive.
“I spun the tyres on the astroturf and from then on the rear tyres were too hot. I did the lap with hot rears.”