Alex Albon has explained the part he played in Max Verstappen’s ultimately successful quest to win the 2021 title.
For the first time in the hybrid era, Red Bull had a strong enough car to take the fight to Mercedes for the entirety of the season.
In the past, they have started campaigns with a slower package than the German team and been unable to close the gap in time to pose a serious threat, but that was not the case last year with Verstappen and co hitting the ground running.
Albon, who spent the season as the team’s test and reserve driver after being replaced by Sergio Perez for a race seat, says that was partly because he spent a lot of time in the simulator before the first race helping to find ways to fix the stability issues the 2020 car had.
While he admits the aerodynamic rule changes helped too, he feels that was key.
“We spent a lot of time in the simulator last winter to make our car more stable than 2020’s and to address the main weaknesses,” he told the Dutch branch of Motorsport.com.
“In 2020 the car was still quite tricky, especially because of the fickle rear. Of course, the rules for the adapted floor helped us, but at the same time we really maximised our own package.”
It’s a vibe! 🥳 So happy for @Max33Verstappen & everyone @redbullracing. Fortune went our way today but I must say the whole team deserve all of it! At the track & factory together we put so much work into this season. Huge respect to @LewisHamilton a class act on & off track 🙏 pic.twitter.com/rPvDiOv4lt
— Alex Albon (@alex_albon) December 12, 2021
When it was announced he would be the team’s test and reserve driver for 2021, it was thought most of the work Albon did would be on helping to develop the 2022 car.
However, he says that as the season went on, his duties became more and more about the season taking place rather than the next one, doing a huge amount of work in the simulator for the final two rounds of the campaign in particular.
“A little, yes,” he said when asked whether the title fight had led to him playing a bigger part in Red Bull’s 2021 development.
“As the title race got more exciting, we refocused our work on this year’s car.
“In any case, we did more for the races in Jeddah and Abu Dhabi than we would in the simulator for a normal race weekend. Fortunately, that worked out very well.”
Given the part he played, the now Williams driver feels a lot of pride and says Verstappen prevailing was very satisfying for him.
“This title feels great, also for me,” he stated.
“The guys worked so incredibly hard, not just me but everyone in the factory. And yes, it just feels great to be rewarded for that.
“Even though I only contributed 0.1 per cent to the end result, it was not in vain and this success gives me great satisfaction.”