‘Mr Round the Outside’ - Albon addresses new nickname after podium at Mugello
It was third time lucky for Alex Albon at Mugello, whose first podium finally ceased to evade him, thanks to his preferred method of overtaking.
The curse has been lifted
It is no secret that Albon carries with him the haunting memories of his clashes with six-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton that dashed his hopes for a podium finish, in both the Brazilian Grand Prix last year and the Austrian Grand Prix in the debut race of 2020 - sober reminders that Formula 1 is often as unpredictable as the weather.
During the latter of the two formerly mentioned races (in which the possibility of not just a podium but a win was on the table for Albon), the Red Bull driver began the process of cementing his new nickname, ‘Mr Round the Outside’.
As the name suggests, Albon’s recent string of sterling overtakes - including the fateful move on Hamilton in Austria that resulted in his podium hopes literally spinning away - have been executed using the more unconventional outside line.
Albon’s unique approach
The young Thai has become quite accustomed to the outside route in a number of his previous races with Red Bull; he poached P7 from Daniel Ricciardo at Spa’s ‘No-Name’ corner last year, snagged P3 from Vettel during last season’s Brazilian Grand Prix and more recently inherited positions from Gasly, Norris and Raikkonen at Silverstone’s Luffield and Copse corners during the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix - all of which were executed using the outside line.
As fate would have it, Alex Albon’s maiden podium in Formula 1 was to come, rather fittingly, after two faultless maneuvers around the outside of Mugello’s Turns 3 (Poggio Secco) and 1 (San Donato) on Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo, respectively.
“If the inside was free, I’d take it,” Albon explained after the jubilation of his Tuscan Grand Prix result had simmered down. “People defend, so I have to go around the outside. It’s not really [always been my style], I’d say it’s a Red Bull thing; the car’s good on the brakes so we can use that to our advantage pretty well. I mean, the tracks we’ve been going to have also been pretty nice for those kinds of moves too.”
Still a mountain to climb
Despite standing on the podium for the first time in his F1 career on Sunday and subsequently collecting 15 points, Albon still sits P5 with a 47-point deficit between himself and his Red Bull team mate Max Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship, following what has been an arduous 2020 season up until his heroic Mugello performance.
“It’s been a long and difficult year so far, and even though things have been getting better, the results didn’t show that,” he continued. “I just wanted to thank the guys for supporting me since day one.
“The team have been working hard trying to get the car in a better window for me and make me feel comfortable. And of course, Monza [where Albon finished P15 and Verstappen retired from P14] wasn’t a good race for us, so to bounce back the way we did shows the courage and determination from everyone.
“I would like to say it could’ve, and should’ve, happened sooner,” he said regarding his podium, “but to get it the way we did was nice. It wasn’t an easy race, we had to fight for it and it took some overtakes on the track to get it.”
Was Mugello Albon’s turning point?
As Alex Albon reflects on his weekend at Mugello and the milestone that he reached in his sporting career, his top priority will be capitalizing upon that success and continuing on the same upward trajectory to ensure that he can retain his seat at Red Bull for seasons to come.