LONDON • Red Bull see plenty of untapped potential in Alex Albon and are happy with the British-born Thai, according to team boss Christian Horner.
Williams driver George Russell defended his friend and rival at last weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix, saying he was "being made to look like an idiot and he's absolutely not" after Albon qualified 13th while teammate Max Verstappen started in seventh.
Albon was heard on the radio earlier complaining to his team about sending him out into traffic for his final run in the second phase of qualifying.
But the 24-year-old, a Formula One rookie last year alongside teammate Max Verstappen, ultimately put in a strong performance to finish fifth at the Hungaroring, with Verstappen second behind Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton.
"I'm very pleased with Alex. He's picked up a bit of criticism, which has been very harsh on him," Red Bull team boss Christian Horner told Sky Sports TV.
"We made a mistake in the timing (in qualifying), we put too much pressure on him. We have to take responsibility for that.
"He's done the passing manoeuvres when he needed to, he's responded very well. I really believe that Alex has got a lot more potential that we just haven't uncovered yet."
Verstappen has already enjoyed two podium placings this season, finishing runner-up in Hungary, while Albon, who is fifth in the championship standings, is still waiting for his maiden podium.
Horner acknowledged that the RB16 was a difficult car to drive at the moment, with both drivers spinning frequently and struggling during practice in Hungary, and that Albon was doing well given the circumstances.
"Max's ability to drive around those problems, that's experience on Max's side that Alex doesn't have," he said. "He will get (that), and he is getting stronger and stronger."
Meanwhile, championship leader Hamilton expects an empty Silverstone to feel "super weird" with F1 next staging back-to-back races at the British circuit.
The first three races in Austria and Hungary have been held without spectators due to the coronavirus pandemic, and that will remain the case at what was the best attended grand prix last year.
EXPERIENCE WILL COME
Max's ability to drive around those problems, that's experience on Max's side that Alex doesn't have. He will get (that), and he is getting stronger and stronger.
CHRISTIAN HORNER, Red Bull team principal on Alex Albon. The 24-year-old driver is in his second F1 season.
Silverstone will host the British Grand Prix on Aug 2, followed by the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix the weekend after, and it is the energy the crowd brings that the Briton misses the most.
"The British Grand Prix is the best, particularly because of the fans, the thousands that turn up and really create the spectacle," said the six-time world champion.
"That is something I am still coming to terms with. The atmosphere, for me, it's night and day different."
He has won a record six times at Silverstone, celebrating in the past by crowd surfing. While that will not be possible this year, there is every likelihood of him adding to his two-win tally this term, with Mercedes in a class of their own.