A little birdie landed on my fence this morning and in the midst of it’s twittering informed me that Alex Albon has been informed that as of Friday, he will be the Red Rags test and reserve driver. Because the team has signed Sergio Perez for 2021 and beyond along side Max Verstappen. If Alex had read the tea leaves he may have guessed the jig was up when it was announced (a little surprisingly) that their existing test driver, Sebastien Buemi, who hadn’t driven in their cars since 2014, was getting a run in the end of season test. Sounded a bit to me like a “have a drive as a thanks for your years of service, but we won’t need you next year” sort of arrangement.Sakhir winner Perez joins Red Bull for 2021

  One can feel some sympathy for Alex as he had been tossed right in the deep end of the Red Bull pool when he was switched to the main team after only half a season at Torro Rosso in F1. It was always going to be a hard ask to go up against the flying Dutchman that early in his career but he never quite got to grips with Max’s pace of the cars foibles. And as Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly know, the twine that holds the sword of Damocles over your head at Red Bull is very brittle. When you look at the basic numbers it is hard to fault Red Rags decision. In qualifying Alex did not beat Max once all year. Alex’s best position was 4th on four occasions while Max was 4th or lower on just three. The only times Alex finished a race ahead of Max was on the 5 occasions that Max retired. 214 points with a pole and two wins compared to 105 points with 2 thirds. Sadly for Alex there is nothing there that points to anything except a bit of a flogging and when the team wants to be in contention for drivers and constructors titles, you need to be a lot closer to your team leader than flogged.

  This is not to say that Alex is a bad driver. Pierre Gasly didn’t look too flash against Max either but look at his form this year, especially his win at Monza. In another team, it could well be that Alex could prove his worth as a F1 driver just like Pierre, but F1 is a ruthless bastard of a sport and it may be that Alex’s days are over. Just as it looked for Sergio when Racing Point made what I still think was the unfathomable decision to dump him for the seriously under-performing Sebastian Vettel next year. Like Alex, Seb has been seriously flogged, both this year and last, by Charles Leclerc. Vettel’s performance this year is the worst full season by a Ferrari driver since Jody Scheckter in the horrid 312T5 in 1980. Slightly skewed stat as Poor Ivan Capelli, in the equally horrid F92A had a worse year in 1992 but was dumped a few races before the end of the season but you get my drift. Seb was outscored in the points this year by Leclerc by slightly less than 3-1. (98-33). If you used the same scoring system in use in 1980 Seb would have scored a measly 5 points yet Racing Point’s justification was that Seb will bring a winning mentality. For their sake I hope so BUT…………

  The guy they so ruthlessly dumped just completed his finest season in F1. 4th in the drivers championship with 125 points (that is 92 more than Vettel) with a wonderfully emotional win in the Sakhir Grand Prix and outscoring his team-mates (plural) by 40 points. This is also the guy that put in train the events that saved Force India from financial collapse and it’s rebranding to Racing Point. Surely a little more loyalty might have been shown to their best driver in well over 20 years. But no, as I say, a ruthless bastard of a sport. But Racing Point/Aston Martin’s loss is Red Rags gain and a wonderful opportunity for Sergio to finally have a real front running car and exhibit his undoubted talents. Will he be a match for Max? I guess we will see in about 14 weeks or so.

  On the topic of the Flying Dutchman (or at least on an obscure angle thereof) remember the good one-liners that came out after Max’s dad Jos’s Benetton went up in flames at Hockenheim in 1994? The Frying Dutchman. The ignited colours of Benetton. Not so correct in these days but still funny.

  For latest race results & the drivers test go to; 2020 F1 (mmmsport.com.au)

  16-12 2020

  Sam Snape