Red Bull chief engineer Paul Monaghan says Alex Albon’s current struggles have highlighted the need for the Milton Keynes team to supply its driver with “a better-balanced” car.
Albon’s deficit to teammate Max Verstappen this season in qualifying has thrown into doubt the British-Thai racer’s ability to perform on the same level as the Dutchman.
A perception reinforced by the 24-year-old’s failure to make the Q3 cut in Saturday’s qualifying for the British Grand Prix, while Verstappen was third fastest in the top-ten shootout.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says the criticism directed at Albon has been “unwarranted and unfair”, and admits the car provided to Albon is far from “optimized”, an opinion shared by Monaghan.
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“You often find around here when it gets a little bit windy the car is gonna be a little bit tricky to drive,” said RBR’s chief engineer.
“And I think it’s fair to say that if you looked at Friday’s pace, then it’s a little bit disappointing for Alex as much as anybody to not reach Q3. Certainly he’s capable and the car’s capable, we’ve just got to actually sort it out for him to allow him to do it.
“I think it’s just actually working out how to drive this place in terms of you’ve got sort of a low-speed corner in Sector One and a low speed corner towards the end of Sector Three, and yet the others demand quite different characteristics in the car.
“And if we could give Alex a better-balanced car, then we all know that he will then stick it straight into Q3 without any bother. So I think that the challenge lies more with us than it does with Alex, to be brutally honest with ourselves.”
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In an attempt to help Albon make progress and deal with the characteristics of Red Bull’s RB16, the team appointed experienced race engineer Simon Rennie to work alongside its young charger.
Christian Horner explained the reason behind the change.
“Simon has obviously been with the team for a long time and he was race engineer to both Mark Webber and Daniel Ricciardo through his entirety at Red Bull Racing,” said the Briton.
“Simon left the pit wall, through his own choice, at the end of 2018 to take on a factory-based role and that’s what he’s been working at for the last couple of years.
“But with the issues that we currently have with the car and an inexperienced driver like Alex we felt that it was unfair on the race engineer who was working with Alex, who was relatively inexperienced, to have that pressure.
“So we’ve brought Simon back into the front line for the rest of the season, and hopefully that experience, that knowledge while we aggressively develop this car will only help Alex, because you have to understand that every time he gets in the car it’s that little bit different and I think an experienced hand like Simon is definitely a positive for him.”
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