F1-Insider Ralf Bach comments on Red Bull’s recent driver swap:
Alexander Albon’s promotion to become Max Verstappen’s new team-mate and the simultaneous demotion of Pierre Gasly by Red Bull is only consistent with what Red Bull has done in the past. Red Bull chief consultant Helmut Marko told me on the phone, that they had to act after the disastrous Hungarian GP. I can only agree.
In Hungary, it wasn’t the first time that Gasly was overlapped by Verstappen. Since Australia, Gasly performed poorly in comparison to the flying Dutchman to say it mildly. In more direct words, Verstappen simply destroyed him. In qualifying the Dutchman was on average half a second faster. During races, the speed gap became even more obvious.
While Verstappen won twice and achieved a total of five podiums, Gasly only managed a fourth place in Silverstone as his best result. Verstappen earned 74 percent of all points for the team.
And if you looked at the data mountain from a more sober perspective, you could say, that due to Gasly’s weak performance, Red Bull is only in third place in the constructor’s championship behind Ferrari.
There is just no other way to see it, Red Bull chief strategist Marko had to act and it was right. Because there is much more at stake than simply a weak performance relative to another driver.
To ensure that Red Bull Racing is well-positioned and strong enough for 2020, and to be able to challenge both titles together with engine provider Honda, Red Bull had to act.
Hence, it makes only sense that Alexander Albon, the talented rookie, gets his chance now. He has been driving a terrific debut season for Toro Rosso. Now he has the chance to prove in the remaining nine races that he is the right man for Red Bull’s mission in 2020.
But is he ready for the job? Of course, on the phone, Albon told Marko, that he was ready. What else should he say? But success in Formula 1 is not only a matter of raw speed but also a matter of having a strong mind. Here lies Albon’s advantage.
Albon has nothing to lose because, in a worst-case scenario, he will simply return to Toro Rosso in 2020 to get more time to mature.
His job now will be to be closer to Verstappen than Gasly ever was and to help the team to overtake Ferrari in the battle for the #2 position behind Mercedes. If he can accomplish this, his place at Red Bull for 2020 will be a certainty.
*This article was first published in German at autobild.de/motorsport.