Albon’s fate shows F1 ‘can be very hard world’ – Norris
McLaren driver Lando Norris has lamented the way that his friend Alex Albon has ended up being sidelined after an up-and-down season at Red Bull.
Albon made his debut with the team in the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix, but struggled to close the half second gap to his team mate Max Verstappen. While Verstappen chalked up two wins and nine further top three results in 2020, Albon managed only two podium finishes in Tuscany and Bahrain.
The London-born Thai driver’s inconsistent performance was one of the reasons cited for Red Bull being unable to challenge Mercedes in the constructors standings.
- Read also: Horner says Perez can push Max more than Albon did
He was dropped by the the team at the end of 2020 in favour of Sergio Perez but will continue to serve as the squad’s test and reserve driver while also keeping race-sharp by competing in DTM.
At McLaren’s virtual car launch event on Monday, Norris was asked how he felt about the exit of one of his closest friends in motorsport.
“It’s a shame he lost his seat but I’m sure he’s going to do everything he can to fight back and get back into F1,” said the 21-year-old Briton. “He’s a very good driver.
“I’m sorry for him,” he added. “Formula 1 can be a very hard world and we’re seeing that again.
“He beat everyone in all the junior categories, but once you’re in F1 it’s all different, just a bit more competitive. It can be a very unfair world.
“You can lose your spot just like that and it’s all over as quickly as it started,” he acknowledged. “I don’t know what to say about it, I like Alex and have a lot of respect for him.
“It’s difficult because we’re good friends,” he said. “We get along well and have always had good conversations, although we haven’t actually talked much about Red Bull.”
Norris himself is heading into his third season with McLaren in F1. He picked up his first podium in last year’s season opener at the Red Bull Ring and finished the season only eight points behind team mate Carlos Sainz in the final drivers standings.
Sainz has now moved to Ferrari, leaving Norris facing the challenge of a brand new team mate this year in the form of the experienced Daniel Ricciardo.
“I don’t think the arrival of Daniel will make it any harder for me,” predicted Norris. “I worked with Carlos who is an extremely good driver.
“There are things Carlos is going to be better at than Daniel and vice-versa,” he said. “I don’t believe Daniel is a big step above anything that Carlos has achieved.
“There is more pressure on him because he has been in F1 for longer, so he has to come in and perform very well,” he argued. “It is harder for someone to go up against a much younger driver than it is for a younger driver going up against someone with more experience.
“But I still need to perform very well, and there are no excuses for me anymore,” he acknowledged. “I have more responsibility on me now than the past few years to lead the team.”
The pair had their first taste of the new Mercedes-powered MCL35M in a shakedown at Silverstone on Tuesday.
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