The Big Question | Is The Second Red Bull Seat Cursed?

29-10-2020 12:00 | Updated: 29-10-2020 14:39
The Big Question | Is The Second Red Bull Seat Cursed?

Who's going to fill the second seat at Red Bull Racing for 2021? That's the question that everyone is asking at the moment and as Formula 1's transfer season continues, it's looking more likely that the Austrian team will look outside of the Red Bull stable.

The second Red Bull seat is cursed and that's not just because it's Halloween this weekend... Ever since Daniel Ricciardo left the team, nobody has been able to keep up with Max Verstappen and everyone who has been given a shot simply hasn't been able to live up to the expectation put upon them. 

Alex Albon has the seat at the moment but it is looking increasingly likely that he could be replaced. But is the issue with him as a driver? Or has that second Red Bull seat had a Voodoo spell cast on it?!   

Why didn't Gasly replace Albon? 

Pierre Gasly has been in fine form since being demoted and has arguably been the driver of the 2020 season. It was announced yesterday that he will stay with Alpha Tauri for at least another year and there should be no surprise that he wasn't the one to get called back up to the senior team. 

Gasly has proven he is a fast racer and this is why they haven't put the Frenchman back in the top seat. Imagine if he returned to Red Bull, having won a Grand Prix and getting a podium with Alpha Tauri, proving himself as a top-quality driver, and then struggled again at Red Bull. That would prove that the issue is with the team rather than the driver and that the seat is in fact cursed. 

Why is Albon so slow in the Red Bull? 

It is common for teams to have a car that favors one of their two drivers. It's clear to see that the current Ferrari is set up more in Charles Leclerc's style of driving compared to Vettel's. The Red Bull is set up for Verstappen. The Dutchman likes a car with a pointy front end that he can put where he wants and then correct through the corners. Albon seemingly prefers a more stable car and is therefore having to change his driving style. 

Imagine the pressure of driving a Formula 1 car and then add on top all of the bombardment from a team like Red Bull and then all of the media hounding him constantly. It's hardly surprising he's having a tough time. 

To compete at the front end in Formula 1 you need two cars at the top of the grid consistently. Alex Albon hasn't been anywhere near the pace and hasn't justified keeping his seat and unfortunately being a nice guy isn't going to do him any favors in Red Bull's set up. It's right for him to leave the team and you can already see Helmut Marko's grin as he rubs his hands with excitement as he gets ready to sack another exciting, young, talented driver. 

But the issue isn't with the drivers, it's a problem with the car, so why should Albon leave? 

Why Albon needs to leave

Historically, Red Bull have always struggled to have two competitive cars on track since the days of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber and this is a problem that they need to fix and now is no better time to try and resolve the issue.

Drivers like Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg have a bank of experience and are lurking like sharks in the depths ready to attack any potential seat in the sport. Perez has been kicked out of Racing Point and Hulkenberg was replaced by Esteban Ocon at Renault last year. However, having replaced the COVID positive Perez and Lance Stroll for a few races this season, Hulkenberg has proven that he is still one of the best around and if either of these two drivers are given a drive in the Red Bull then it will be immediately clear to see if it is in fact a driver problem or one with the car. If it is a car issue then both of those drivers have the skills to help the team fix whatever is wrong and get Red Bull back fighting with two prongs. 

So here's what should happen

It's all very well saying that the second driver needs to adapt but if nobody is able to match Verstappen's performance why don't they change the car to something that is more likely for two drivers to produce a performance from? It's guaranteed that Verstappen has the skills to push the limit of any car he is given and if it helps the team's overall performance wouldn't that be a good thing?   

Red Bull needs answers. Either their drivers are not as fast as they should be or the car is too hard to drive. The only way to find out is to put a Formula 1 veteran in the seat for next season so they can help identify the issue and fix it. It might well be that Albon and Gasly are not up to the job and if Hulkenberg or Perez come in and immediately start to put in results then it'll be clear that both Albon and Gasly aren't as good as many believe they are but if a driver with a proven track record struggles in the seat then we will have our answer. 

For the 2021 season, both Gasly and Albon should be put in the Alpha Tauri and whoever is quicker that season then gets promoted back into Red Bull with a car that will be easier to drive and more competitive thanks to the work from either Perez or Hulkenberg who would have lifted the curse. 

The second Red Bull seat is one that is enshrined in controversy and for whatever reason, it seems that nobody can do a good job in it. But it can't be a driver issue, Gasly's proven that. It's a problem with the team and car and it'll take a respected driver with pedigree to go in and sort it out. 

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