F1: Hamilton v Verstappen in numbers
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Max Verstappen has warned his former Red Bull team-mate Alex Albon that it will not be easy for him to adjust to his new surrounding when he returns to F1 in 2022. After a year out of the sport, competing in DTM racing alongside his duties as a reserve driver, the British-Thai racer will join Williams next season.
Albon was impressive enough in his first half-season with sister team Toro Rosso that he was called up to Red Bull midway through the campaign to replace Pierre Gasly, who had struggled to perform after making the same move.
A run of consistent result say him named Rookie of the Year at the end of that campaign, and convinced Christian Horner to stick with him in 2020.
But only two podium finishes and 105 championship points were scored during the whole of that season, and Red Bull decided to demote him to a reserve driver and bring in Sergio Perez.
The Mexican will remain Verstappen’s team-mate in 2022, with Albon moving to Williams as Horner was desperate to get him back into the sport to gain more experience.
The Dutchman has admitted it will be tough for the man he used to share a paddock with to adjust to a new team, but backed Albon’s driving ability and predicted he will succeed.
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Verstappen said: “It’s difficult. I don’t know how he looks at it but he knows he has the speed. I think we all know that he has. He has shown this from go-karting.
“But probably in a less-pressure environment, it will be good to come back like that and like I said, I’m sure he will do well.
“Of course, you need to get used to the car, we all do with the new rules, but he will do good.”
He also praised the work Albon has done as Red Bull’s reserve this season.
“He has been very helpful on the simulator for us,” Verstappen said.
Albon was only able to join Williams after engine supplier Mercedes came to an agreement which means the racer is no longer officially on Red Bull’s books.
Red Bull did, however, say it will maintain “a relationship” with the racer which includes unspecified future options.
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Toto Wolff said Mercedes had not wanted to interfere with Williams’ right to choose whoever they want to drive their cars, but admitted the manufacturer had insisted confidentiality clauses be inserted into Albon’s contract which protect their IP.
“I was at Williams, and I would have not wanted anybody to interfere in our driver decision,” the Austrian said.
“And in the same way, we have no contractual rights that we could have or would have utilised, because I don’t think it’s right to meddle with the team’s decision on drivers.
“What was important for us is if a driver from another power unit manufacturer joins the team then there is very strict and clear IP confidentiality clauses.”
Albon admitted he had no idea exactly what had been put into his contract by Mercedes, adding he is only focussed on doing “the best job I can” on his F1 return.
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