Alexander Albon might not have a drive for the 2021 Formula 1 season, but his career is far from over according to Red Bull’s Helmut Marko.
Albon has lost his Red Bull seat to Sergio Perez following an inconsistent season, which saw him fail to match team-mate Max Verstappen, with the Thai racer scoring half the amount of points.
Red Bull have opted to sideline Albon instead of placing him back at AlphaTauri where he impressed, with Pierre Gasly – another driver promoted to the top team only to be dropped – partnering rookie Yuki Tsunoda next year.
But Albon will still get the chance to drive the RB16B next year as he will hold a test and reserve role, which Marko says they fully intend to utilise him for if and when he’s required.
“We have assured him we will use him extensively in testing,” he told Motorsport-Total.com.
“The 2022 tyres are to be tested [next year], for which there are separate tests. He will drive the simulator. He will also be a reserve driver for many races. We have four cars. There are chances that he will be used.”
Marko said Red Bull would also be open to loaning Albon to other teams if they’re in need of a driver, such was the case for Racing Point and Mercedes this year when its drivers tested positive for COVID-19.
“In addition, we are ready to loan him out if the situation arises in another team that they need a driver at short notice, so he can still achieve racing kilometres. It is not the end for him. We will see whether we can stabilise him.”
Marko opened up on the reasons behind the decision to replace him with Perez – an outsider who hasn’t risen through the ranks of Red Bull’s junior programme.
“It was a lack of consistency. He [Albon] was too easily unsettled, for example when the wind increased in intensity or came from a different direction. Or when the tyres started to degrade, he lost a disproportionately large amount of time.
“It’s certainly a mental story too. But if you have a team-mate who drives at the absolute top level, no matter what the car is, I think that plays a role.
“Of course all the media reports and the unsatisfactory results unsettled him too. The gap to Verstappen increased over the course of the season, not decreased. Admittedly marginal, but it did grow.”