Late contact from Lewis Hamilton surprises Alex Albon as F1 restart incident at Austrian Grand Prix denies Red Bull Racing driver first podium once again
Alex Albon said he had his eyes firmly fixed on a first F1 race victory when Lewis Hamilton’s misjudgement sent him spinning off 11 laps from the end of the Austrian Grand Prix.
For the Bures-raised driver, who ended up retiring with a power unit failure on F1’s four month coronavirus-delayed 2020 season opener, it brought back painful memories of the collision with the world champion in Brazil.
That crash, just two races previously, had denied the former Nayland schoolboy a first ever F1 podium, sparking a public apology from Hamilton.
This time around, the Mercedes driver, who had suffered from a grid penalty which following a complaint from Albon’s Red Bull Racing team about his car’s set-up, termed it “unfortunate’” but stressed it was merely a “racing incident”.
Hamilton ended up finishing second on the Spielberg circuit but relegated back to fourth after a five-second penalty. It was applied for being at fault in clipping Albon’s rear end as he overtook him for second place on the outside of turn four on lap 61, sending the latter to the back of the pack before his retirement.
The now Milton Keynes-based 24-year-old will hope to put the latest incident with Hamilton behind him when he returns to his team’s home Red Bull Ring track again this weekend for the Steiermark (or Styrian) Grand Prix.
But he admits he will be very fortunate if he has as good an opportunity as he did prior to Sunday’s collision.
“It’s still quite fresh, so I’ve got to be careful what I say, but there’s nothing to add apart from how frustrating that is,” he said during the trackside press conferences.
“I really think we could have easily won that race. We had a great strategy, the guys did a great job in the pit stops, yes we had a little bit of fortune with the safety car, but the car was feeling good.
“The hard tyre wasn’t very strong today and I knew the Mercedes would have cold tyres on the restart, so I already planned to get past them within a few laps of the safety car coming in.
“I feel like I had completed the move on Lewis already, and I was thinking about getting Bottas on the next lap.
“The contact with Lewis was so late in the corner that it surprised me. I was right on the edge of the track and I knew if I gave him all the space I could it would be up to him if he wants to crash or not.
“This time I was the one on the attack and he was defending. I wouldn’t say this one hurts more than Brazil, but that incident was maybe 50/50, whereas this one isn’t.
“Obviously we’ve got next weekend to focus on now, we’ll need a bit of luck to have the same opportunity as today, but let’s see.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: “It was clearly a misjudgement by Lewis which he received a penalty for, but that still cuts deep for Alex.”
“We then had to retire the car with what looks like a PU issue, which will now be investigated. It’s hugely frustrating to come away from this race with a double DNF and no points, when we could have been in a position to win.
“The positives are that we looked to be having a competitive race, but we still have a bit of pace to find ahead of next weekend.”
Speaking to Sky F1, Hamilton said: “Obviously, I have great pace to catch up with Valtteri and a really unfortunate scenario with Alex.
“I can’t believe we’ve come together again, but it really felt like a racing incident.”
Before the race Albon had joined Hamilton and a host of other drivers - though six declined - in taking a knee for the Black Lives Matter movement against racism.
More by this authorRussell Claydon
This website and its associated newspaper are members of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO)