Alex Albon steps up at Mugello to claim maiden podium finish
© Luca Bruno - Pool/Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Alex Albon survives a chaotic race to take a memorable third place at the Tuscan Grand Prix.
For the first time in Formula One history, the drivers did battle at the Mugello Circuit for the Tuscan Grand Prix, and after early race crashes, two red flags and three race starts, Alex Albon sealed his maiden F1 podium amid a hectic afternoon of racing.
The key to Albon’s race came with the third standing start of the afternoon and what was effectively a 13-lap sprint race. The Thai-British driver survived the fall out from the opening-lap collisions to remain in the running as chaos reigned in Tuscany. The teams had to deal with a series of interruptions following some big crashes that resulted in just 12 cars reaching the finish. Albon kept a cool head, despite the September heat, executing some superbly timed overtakes to come home in third and really jump start his 2020 campaign.
The reason F1 has visited Mugello in 2020 is due to the current global situation and the subsequent alterations to the championship calendar. The newest addition to the F1 itinerary certainly served up drama from the start.
A first-lap crash eliminated Albon’s team-mate Max Verstappen and Gasly, triggering a safety car period. Then came another safety car after a huge crash at the restart. This was quickly followed by a red flag and a race stoppage, with just 13 of the 20 cars that had started the race now remaining.
Lance Stroll’s sizeable crash with 15 laps left brought out a second red-flag race stoppage, with Albon gaining a place due to the Racing Point driver’s misfortune. He lined up for the third restart in fourth place, behind the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo and the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and race-leader Lewis Hamilton.
At the day's third restart, Albon managed to fend off pressure from Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez. The Mexican driver briefly grabbed fourth, but Albon fought back with a superb pass to regain the position and set about chasing down Ricciardo. “Let’s get stuck into Riccardo, let’s have him!” was the instruction from Albon’s race engineer Simon Rennie and, on lap 51, he swooped around the outside of turn one to take third place with 10 laps remaining.
Suddenly P2 looked a possibility for Albon as he moved within one second and DRS range of second-place Bottas, but at the chequered flag he was forced to settle for a hard-won third place. Speaking after the race, Albon commented: "It took a while to get here! It was a tough one. It feels nice to be here." With a display of great overtaking and measured driving behind him, he must now be optimistic about going at least one better at the next Grand Prix, in Russia.
I wasn't going to let the opportunity of a podium go by, so I pushed hard to get third and I'm over the moon with today's result
"I'm really happy and it took a while to get here! It’s something I've always wanted and one way or another we haven't been able to get it so to be there today is pretty special," commented Albon after the race. "It's really nice to give the team something back after they've supported me since day one and show them what I can do. It was a tough race and definitely not one of the easy ones… When we lost two positions on the final re-start, I was fired up as I wasn't going to let the opportunity of a podium go by, so I pushed hard to get third and I'm over the moon with today's result."
Scuderia AlphaTauri's Daniil Kyvat made up for his team-mate's first-lap disappointment by coming home in seventh, claiming his best result of the year and taking valuable constructor points in his team's chase of Ferrari's sixth place in the Constructors' Championship standings.