Rookie Alex Albon Leads Honda's F1 Efforts In Mexico City
October 28, 2019 by Honda
•Max Verstappen battles back from multiple incidents to place 6th
•Pierre Gasly has back-to-back top-nine results
•Albon runs as high as third before placing 5th
It has been said that racing drivers make their own luck.
October 28, 2019 — MARYSVILLE, Ohio
If that is the case, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen will be looking for a new recipe after suffering a trio of maladies that blunted his charge in Sunday's Mexico Grand Prix as three Honda-powered cars earned points-paying finishes.
Verstappen won the pole for Sunday's race in Mexico City, but started fourth due to a three-spot penalty handed down for not slowing for a caution flag. The Dutchman got ahead of Lewis Hamilton at the race start in a battle for third but dropped back to eighth after side-to-side contact, then got a punctured tire while passing Valtteri Bottas four laps later. The contact set the stage for Verstappen to run the final 66 laps on a single set of tires, which he managed expertly to come back to a sixth-place finish.
Behind Verstappen, Alex Albon avoided the opening-lap contact and ran in third for the first half of the race, chasing the leading Ferrari duo. The rookie effectively used a two-stop strategy to place fifth, scoring his third-consecutive top-five result. The finish also extends a streak that has seen Albon place sixth or better in each of the six races run since he and Pierre Gasly swapped Honda-powered rides after Round 12.
On the Toro Rosso side, Pierre Gasly finished ninth to score championship points for the second straight race, marking the first time he has done so since returning to the Toro Rosso squad. His teammate Daniil Kvyat ran in the points all day, but received a 10-second penalty after the race for avoidable contact while passing Nico Hulkenberg on the last lap, sending him to an 11th-place finish.
The result dropped Verstappen to fifth in the season standings while Gasly reclaimed sixth place from Carlos Sainz by a single point. Albon continues to hold down the eighth spot, but is now just three points out of sixth. Kvyat is 13th with three races to go but is only four points out of a berth in the top 10.
Formula 1 will stay on the North American continent this week as the series heads to Austin, Texas for Sunday's United States Grand Prix held at the Circuit of the Americas just outside the Texan capital.
Technical Director, Honda F1
'It was a disappointing race in that we were unable to convert the speed we had shown all weekend into a better result. Albon had a solid race, making the most of the period after the start to move up to third place and eventually finishing where he started in fifth place. Unfortunately, from fourth on the grid, Verstappen got caught out in the chaotic moments after the start and later had to pit with a puncture. He rejoined and fought his way back up the order from last place to sixth. As for the Toro Rosso drivers, after showing good pace all weekend, they had a frustrating race, possibly handicapped by having to start on the used softs from qualifying. But at least Gasly's two points are useful for the fight for fifth place in the Constructors' classification. There are only three more races to go and we want to make the most of every opportunity, starting in Austin in a few days' time.'
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing
Start: 4th, Finish: 6th
'Sixth obviously isn't where I wanted to finish today with the car we had but when you look at the circumstances I think it was still a very good race. I had a good start and I think Lewis got pushed onto the grass by a Ferrari so he lost some momentum. He came back around the outside at Turn 1 and then into Turn 2 he went very deep to defend and I had to go onto the grass to avoid him. The race was still on until I overtook Valtteri and he clipped my rear tire which gave me a puncture and I had to do a whole lap to get back to the pits. The result is a shame as the pace was good and the car was good but to come back to sixth was actually not a bad result if you look at everything that went on.'
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing
Start: 5th, Finish: 5th
'I think it was one of my best races in terms of pace and the guys in front weren't too far ahead! It was great to be fighting at the front but unfortunately their one stop strategy worked out better. We stuck to a two stop strategy but I'm not sure if we had the pace or tire life to make a one stop work. I lost quite a lot of time getting through traffic, especially after my first pit stop when I came out behind (Carlos) Sainz but there's quite a high chance of getting traffic at this circuit. The boys also got the fastest pit stop of the race. They have had a busy weekend so that was a great job and I'll have to repay them. Overall, I'm happy with my performance and I'm improving my consistency which is important. The lap times are coming and now I've got three more races to improve even further!'
Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda
Start: 9th, Finish: 11th
'We knew it was going to be difficult today with our starting compound, but we still had high hopes to get some points. I think the race was very strong given the circumstances. In a way we kind of compromised our race with our good qualifying. I'm quite upset with the penalty I received because as a racing driver, I disagree with it because we are told we are allowed to race. Nico was defending and I was attacking and these things happen, especially on the last corner of the last lap. Despite this, I feel very strong after this weekend; Friday, Qualifying, and the race were all strong for me, so I'm looking forward to getting back on track next week in Austin.'
Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda
Start: 10th, Finish: 9th
'It wasn't easy at all inside of the cockpit, but today I gave everything and I'm happy with scoring two points. Overall the car has been competitive all weekend, which was positive. Starting the race on the option tire clearly wasn't ideal, but we tried to make the best out of it. In the end we managed to make it work which was important for our battle in the Championship.'