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Rising Formula 1 star Alex Albon puts himself in pole position to retain seat at Red Bull Racing with career best finish at Japanese Grand Prix




Alex Albon has put himself firmly in pole position to keep hold of his seat with Red Bull Racing after recording a career-best F1 finish at the Japanese Grand Prix.

The Bures-raised driver had insisted in the lead up to Sunday’s race in Suzuka that he was not feeling under pressure to deliver in the next few races, despite knowing an announcement on the team’s 2020 line-up is likely to come after this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix.

And he showed there was substance to those comments with a fourth-place finish at a circuit seen as having a strong following among the crowd cheering the Milton Keynes-based Red Bull, who race Honda-powered cars.

SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 13: Alexander Albon of Thailand and Red Bull Racing waves to the crowd on the drivers parade before the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on October 13, 2019 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) (19287206)
SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 13: Alexander Albon of Thailand and Red Bull Racing waves to the crowd on the drivers parade before the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on October 13, 2019 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) (19287206)

“Fourth is my F1 career best finish and this weekend has definitely felt like my best with the team,” reflected Arbon, who is a former pupil at Littlegarth School in Nayland.

It means the 23-year-old, in his debut F1 season, has now brought home five top-six finishes in as many races since he swapped seats with Pierre Gasly at Red Bull’s development team Toro Rosso. He remains in eighth place in the Drivers’ Championship but is now just nine points behind Gasly in seventh, with five races left in the calendar.

Reflecting on his fourth-place finish having qualified in sixth earlier in the same day due to Typhoon Hagibis, Albon had hoped for even better but conceded it was the best he could get as his first-ever race at Suzuka progressed.

SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 13: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB15 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on October 13, 2019 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images) (19287179)
SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 13: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB15 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on October 13, 2019 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images) (19287179)

“I wanted more in the race and felt like I could have done better at the start but I had too much wheel spin off the line and lost a couple of places to the McLarens,” he said.

“I managed to get back past them, but by then I had already lost a lot of time to the lead pack.

“The move on Lando for P5 was on, he gave me space and left the door open but it was a bit tight.

“We then managed to get past Carlos with some good strategy by undercutting him, but from then onwards we were in no man’s land in P4.

SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 13: Alexander Albon of Thailand and Red Bull Racing prepares to drive in the garage before the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on October 13, 2019 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) (19287188)
SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 13: Alexander Albon of Thailand and Red Bull Racing prepares to drive in the garage before the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on October 13, 2019 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) (19287188)

“It was just about managing the tyres to the end but with Max’s (Max Verstappen) DNF it was good to score some points for the team and fourth was the best we could do.”

Mexico City proved a happy hunting ground for Red Bull Racing last season with a one-two for Daniel Riccardo and Max Verstappen, and Albon will be keen to see further progress for his fledgling F1 career at theAutodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

“I’m still finding my feet but overall I’m happy with my pace and progress and we took a step forward this weekend,” he said.

“Coming into the weekend we probably wanted more, especially for Honda, and we were close, but we just didn’t quite have the pace.

“Now we’ll do our homework and hopefully come back stronger in Mexico.”


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