Amid speculation surrounding Alex Albon’s potential move to either Red Bull or Mercedes, opinions from two respected figures in the Formula 1 community shed a skeptical light on his suitability for top-tier seats. Roger Benoit, a seasoned F1 journalist, and Christijan Albers, a former F1 driver, have expressed reservations about Albon’s readiness to step up to the challenge, particularly in light of his earlier stint with Red Bull during the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
Benoit, writing for the Blick newspaper, points out the difficulty in accurately assessing Albon’s performance at Williams, a team perceived as being centered around him, especially when contrasted with his teammate Logan Sargeant. “Williams is a one-man team,” Benoit remarks, casting doubt on the depth of competition within the team and suggesting that 2024 might not see an improvement in this dynamic.
Albers, speaking to De Telegraaf, critiques the lack of pressure Albon faces at Williams, suggesting it’s a “warm bath” that doesn’t accurately test his mettle. “You have to look at pure performance, and when I do that, he always has a driver next to him that means he’s in a kind of warm bath,” Albers explains, doubting Albon’s ability to thrive under the high-pressure environments of teams like Red Bull or Mercedes.
The comparison drawn by Albers between Albon and Nyck de Vries, who secured a seat after scoring a point at Monza, further emphasizes the perceived gap in aggression and performance under pressure. Albers argues that Albon’s comfort at Williams does not translate into the aggression needed alongside a teammate like Max Verstappen, suggesting that “if you put him next to someone like Max, he will automatically perform less well because there is that unconscious pressure.”
For the seat alongside Verstappen, Albers advocates for Liam Lawson, describing him as a “street fighter” comparable to Oscar Piastri, indicating a preference for a driver with a more combative approach. As for Mercedes, Albers suggests that with George Russell already in place, the team could afford to take a gamble on a younger talent like Kimi Antonelli, echoing a sentiment for fresh, aggressive talent in the sport.