Albon explains the challenge of Verstappen
Last Updated: 28/11/20 5:48pm Alex Albon spoke of the challenge and learning opportunity of being team-mate to Max Verstappen after recovering from what he termed a "silly mistake" in Friday practice
Alex Albon matches best qualifying of the year with fourth on Sakhir grid, 24 hours on from crash that prompted chassis change; 24-year-old opens up on how only a "perfect lap" is good enough to beat team-mate Max Verstappen
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 28/11/20 5:48pm
Alex Albon spoke of the challenge and learning opportunity of being team-mate to Max Verstappen after recovering from what he termed a "silly mistake" in Friday practice to lock out the second row of Sunday's Bahrain GP grid for Red Bull.
Albon, fighting to retain his seat next to Verstappen for next year, had to take a new RB16 chassis for Saturday after crashing at the final corner of the lap in Friday evening practice.
But Saturday proved more straightforward and encouraging for the 24-year-old as he qualified fourth, behind the two Mercedes and his third-placed team-mate. It matched his best qualifying result of the season.
"Twenty-four hours ago it was a bit difficult, but I was confident in the car," said Albon. "It was just a silly mistake."
Nonetheless, while just one position behind Verstappen, Albon was effectively in a battle with the head of the midfield rather the top three during qualifying. He pipped Racing Point's Sergio Perez to fourth by 0.048 seconds.
"P4 was most probably where we were, but at the same time, of course I want to be closer and fighting up a bit more," he said.
"But we're starting up at the front and hopefully we can mingle in and affect, annoy Mercedes."
Albon on Verstappen: 'He's absolutely on the limit everywhere'
Having two cars consistently in play in races against Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas would represent a gamechanger for Red Bull, who have consistently backed Albon to come good.
The Thai-British driver, who remains favourite to keep hold of the seat for 2021, has yet to outqualify Verstappen this year and his Q3 deficit to the Dutchman on Saturday was six tenths of a second.
"It's little bits everywhere. Basically, you have to do a perfect lap to get it," said Albon of the keys to outpacing Verstappen.
"It's not one thing when you're up against someone quick, it's little things. There is not one bit of tarmac that he's not using, he's absolutely on the limit everywhere. It's just that confidence.
"It's being able to push it that hard all the time and, not only that, it's also about pushing but still keeping the tyres alive, which is really difficult."
Widely regarded as one of the two best drivers in F1, Verstappen's consistency and speed mean he is a formidable force to compete directly against in the same car.
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But Albon does not see it as a negative.
"What I see is a great way to improve as a driver," he said.
"You had Pierre [Gasly, Verstappen's previous team-mate] just here before [on the Sky F1 stage], he hasn't just gone slow and quick - he's always been quick - and it's just about benchmark and improving and seeing where is the lap time.
"That's something which is really good to have Max as a team-mate, to be able to compare and see where he's fast."