Red Bull Formula 1 team boss Christian Horner has given credit to former driver Alex Albon for his part in the team’s Monaco Grand Prix victory last time out.
Max Verstappen scored his maiden Monaco win and Red Bull’s first since 2018 as he led from start to finish, after polesitter Charles Leclerc failed to start the race following a crash in qualifying, which damaged his Ferrari.
However Verstappen wasn’t overly happy with his RB16B during Thursday’s practice sessions, which led to a raft of set-up changes overnight to dial his car in. Verstappen looked set to take pole away from Leclerc on Saturday, but a red flag scuppered his effort, forcing him to back off in the final sector.
Horner credits Albon – who has remained with the team in a reserve and development role after he was dropped for this season – for those set-up changes as the Anglo-Thai driver was doing simulator work back at Milton Keynes.
“We were not in great shape on Thursday in Monaco and Max was not particularly happy with the car but the work behind the scenes, the work Alex [Albon] has been putting in on the sim, all helped to turn it around for Saturday,” Horner said in his column.
“We made some good set-up changes, got Max and Checo a lot happier with the car and Max was obviously gutted to miss out on pole with the red flag.
“We all went into Saturday evening a little frustrated because we all knew how difficult it would be to overtake, but Ferrari’s misfortune turned into our good fortune and it was important for us to convert the opportunity.”
Horner also revealed that Britain’s two-time world heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury, sent a message of congratulations following Verstappen’s victory.
“So far this championship is box office. I even received a text from Tyson Fury after Max’s win in Monaco,” Horner added. “The two-time world heavyweight champion is a fan of Max and there has been a lot of excitement from other sports around the competitive championship fight we are in.
“Tyson is an incredibly passionate and focussed guy and I think he respects the fact that Max drives in a similar way.”
Red Bull heads to Azerbaijan this weekend leading both championships and Horner is keen to see whether Ferrari will carry their impressive Monaco form into the event, to make it a three-way battle for the win.
“Mercedes have been mighty there but we did win with Daniel [Ricciardo] in 2017. It is an unforgiving street circuit and anything can happen. Overtaking is possible, unlike at Monte Carlo, and the characteristics of the circuit are very interesting.
“Of course it will also be interesting to see too if Ferrari’s form carries through because that will be great for the championship. Seeing six cars in contention and fighting for wins is better than having just two.”