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Alex Albon says Red Bull’s “villain” tagline in Formula One is a “misconception” and is down to their winning culture. Albon was publicly dropped by the team at the end of the 2020 season, with Sergio Perez joining alongside Max Verstappen.
This season, Albon has watched from the sidelines as a Red Bull’s reserve and test driver after originally replacing Pierre Gasly, who too had struggled for results since arriving at the team.
Red Bull have come into some criticism for their perceived cutthroat approach, however speaking as a guest on the latest episode of the F1 Nation podcast, Albon defended the Milton Keynes-based team.
“I think there is a misconception about it, truthfully speaking,” Albon said.
“I think there is of course that villain role played, I think within the media about it all. But it’s definitely nowhere near like that, basically.”
Verstappen was promoted from Toro Rosso five races into 2016 alongside Daniel Ricciardo at the time, replacing Russia’s Daniil Kvyat, yet since that move, we’ve seen a revolving door of drivers at the team.
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Ricciardo split from the team in 2018, announcing he was leaving to sign for Renault, two years after Verstappen joined.
Next up was Pierre Gasly who was called up from junior team Toro Rosso ahead of the 2019 season, yet it was clear he would not last long.
“I started the 2019 season with Red Bull. I’d gotten to F1 with Toro Rosso in 2017, but Red Bull was my first chance to drive for a top team and prove to everyone what I could do in one of the best cars in the world,” he said in a piece for The Players’ Tribune.
“So after a really good year with Toro Rosso in 2018, I got the call from Helmut Marko to let me know they wanted me at Red Bull.
“I wish I could tell you it was exactly what I thought it would be — what I wanted it to be. But it wasn’t. It just wasn’t.
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“From the moment I made my first mistake in a car, I felt like people there slowly began to turn on me. I’d had a crash in winter testing and from that moment on the season never really got going.
He added: “For whatever reason, I was never going to be a fit in that seat — it was just never going to work.”
Albon was up next, lasting a season and a half at Red Bull before getting the cut.
However, the Thai-British driver admitted the portrayal of chief advisor Helmut Marko, who has a reputation of being brutally honest, was off the mark too.
“You guys [the media] know more than I do, I think Helmut probably gets the worst role on the global side of it, but I think it’s just Red Bull in general,” Albon added.
“You have to realise they’re a winning team. They expect good results. It’s the culture within the team, if we’re not winning, we’re not happy, and that’s kind of how it should be really.
“Especially, the top three teams – generally being Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes, that’s kind of what they expect.
“Of course it is tough, especially when you don’t have much experience to be in a top, top team. But that is what it is. More than anything, it’s just trying to get confident with the car.”
Albon will now race for Williams in 2022, replacing the outgoing George Russell who is moving to partner Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes.
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