Horner remains impressed by Albon despite missed podium

© XPB 

Alexander Albon might have missed out on his first F1 podium on Sunday, but the Red Bull driver can still hold his head up high according to team boss Christian Horner.

Albon started the Brazilian Grand Prix from fifth place on the grid and benefitted from the retirements of Valtteri Bottas and both Ferraris. He was running in second place behind team mate Max Verstappen when the race restarted following a late safety car.

Lewis Hamilton had stopped for fresh tyres under the caution and was much faster than those around him when racing resumed - but in his haste to catch the race leader, he clumsily made contact with Albon who was sent spinning.

The incident meant that Albon ended up in 15th place, while Hamilton lost a podium finish after being penalised for spinning Albon.

Hamilton immediately apologised to the rookie driver after the race, and Horner absolved him of any blame and praised him for an outstanding drive.

"It was a huge shame for him to lose that podium on the penultimate lap," Horner told Crash.net after the race.

"Unfortunately on the last lap, Lewis went for a gap that was rapidly diminishing and contact was made. That was a 1-2 finish for the team and second place for Alex taken away.

"Lewis has obviously put his hand up and apologised but unfortunately it doesn’t get Alex’s podium back," he continued. "But he can leave here with his head held high.

"He looked really comfortable racing world champions," Horner added. "He’s now racing wheel-to-wheel with Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel and Ferraris and he’s making great progress.

“Okay he didn’t get the trophy, but he’s impressed the whole team with his performance."

Albon arrives at Brazil secure in the knowledge that he would remain at Red Bull in 2020. This time last year he was a very late signing for Toro Rosso, and was only promoted to the senior Red Bull team over the summer.

"It’s an encouraging signal for next year," Horner pointed out. "He’s impressed his whole team with his race craft.”

Alexander Albon (THA) Red Bull Racing RB15 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W10 battle for position.

Albon said he wouldn't bear any grudges against Hamilton for the clash and that it had just been one of those racing incidents in the heat of the moment.

"Of course I'm frustrated but I'm not angry, I'm just upset," he said. I wanted that podium and we deserved it as it was on merit.

"Obviously Lewis had good grip once he pitted and I think he would've got me eventually into turn 1, but I thought worst case scenario we had P3.

"I had a good gap to Lewis and I wasn't worrying about him. I went into the corner deep just to cover him so he didn't get any ideas, and then there's a blind spot and obviously we made contact.

"Of course he didn't do it on purpose, it's just one of those things,"he shrugged. "It's done now and we'll focus on the positives before the next race."

Gallery: The beautiful wives and girlfriends of F1 drivers

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter