Honda's Alex Albon Scores First F1 Podium Finish
September 14, 2020 by Honda
• Red Bull driver makes late-race pass to secure third place
•AlphaTauri's Daniil Kvyat finishes season-best seventh
•Verstappen, Gasly eliminated in opening lap fracas
Honda's Formula 1 program is quickly developing a soft spot in its collective heart for Italy. Last week at Monza, Pierre Gasly earned his maiden series victory for Honda and this week saw another first for a Honda-powered driver as Alex Albon placed third at Mugello to score his first F1 podium finish.
Albon started fourth on the grid and stayed near the front on another wild day that saw two red-flag periods and a total of three standing starts. The Honda-powered Aston Martin Red Bull driver made a gutsy pass on the outside of Sergio Perez just after the final restart, then chased down Daniel Ricciardo to make the pass for third with eight laps to go.
Albon's Honda stablemate Daniil Kvyat also had his best day of the 2020 campaign, avoiding the carnage to score a season-high seventh-place finish in his AlphaTauri Honda. Kvyat started 12th and made up three positions on the opening lap of the race to set the stage for his result.
Things did not go as well for Red Bull's Max Verstappen and AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly however. Verstappen started third and got a great launch at the start, but an issue with his power unit saw him lose speed just as he got alongside eventual racewinner Lewis Hamilton. Things went from bad to worse shortly after as Verstappen was clouted from behind when Gasly, Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikonnen tangled in Turn Four. Both Honda-powered cars were eliminated in the opening-lap contact.
Albon became the first Asian driver to earn an F1 podium since 2012 (Kamui Kobayashi, Suzuka) and moved to within two points of fourth-placed Lando Norris in the championship. Kvyat gained two positions with his result and is placed 12th after nine races.
The teams and drivers of the Formula 1 World Championship will have a week off before heading to Russia to run the 3.634-mile circuit of the Sochi Autodrome, which winds through the facilities that hosted the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
Technical Director, Honda F1
'Congratulations to Alex on finishing on the podium for the very first time in Formula 1. He drove very well and when it came down to a 13-lap sprint at the end, he made a great overtaking move on Ricciardo to move up to third. Daniil had a clean race, avoiding the crashes around him, delivering a strong drive to finish seventh. Unfortunately, both Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri were down to just one car on the opening lap. Max lost a lot of places after the start because of a PU problem and then was knocked out in a mid-field collision that also ended Pierre's race. So, although we are happy about Alex's first podium, it is very disappointing to have had a PU problem with Max, especially as he had looked to have good pace since Friday. We have already started analyzing the problem back in the factory and we will now carry out an in-depth analysis to find the root cause, so as to be in good shape for the second half of the season.'
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Honda
Start 3rd, Finish: DNF
'I am of course very disappointed as I know this could have been a really good race for us. I had a good launch at the start of the race and went around Lewis but then the car just didn't accelerate so I lost a lot of speed and had no power. I then dropped back into the midfield and got hit from behind. When you drop into the middle of the pack in the first few corners like that it's quite easy to get involved in a crash so I'm not disappointed about that, we shouldn't have been in that position in the first place. There isn't much more to say but it is just really disappointing for the Team that we had to retire again, especially when we looked so competitive but it is of course good to see Alex maximize the result and get on the podium.'
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Honda
Start: 4th, Finish: 3rd
'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. 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. This track is brutal, especially the high speed corners in sector two, and with so many re-starts to manage we had our work cut out. We struggled to get off the line so I knew I had to be aggressive to get all the overtakes done but we had a really good car and we know it's good on the brakes so we used that to our advantage. 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 Honda
Start: 16th, Finish: DNF
It's a shame to finish the race just after the first corner. It was quite messy coming into Turn 1 with so many cars side by side. I saw some space between Kimi and Romain in Turn 2, I ended up in the middle and had nowhere to go, so we collided and that was pretty much it. I don't think there is anyone to blame, but it's a shame as I feel like we missed an opportunity for points today. We showed good pace all weekend and, even if we didn't have a great qualifying, I was confident we could recover today. Obviously, I would have liked to have been out there with the guys and fight for points, but I think we need to take the positives here because the performance so far has been good, so we need to carry this to Sochi.'
Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
Start: 12th, Finish: 7th
'It was a very difficult race today, both physically and mentally, so I think we can quite proudly say as a team we didn't make any mistakes, which is great. It was important for us to get some good points, so I'm happy with the result and I'm pleased with my driving. The team did a great job in difficult circumstances during the two red flags, and our strategy calls today were the right choices. There was a lot of mess behind us, but in front it was quite stable, so P7 was a very good result and we took some more points to close the gap in the championship.'