The team looked set for a miserable day when lead charge Max Verstappen crashed out in a matter of seconds after the start, but it quickly became clear that Albon — who had emerged from the chaos — was up for the challenge.
However, it may have proved a blessing in disguise as the paddock was treated to a great drive from the London-born Thai, whose career-best showing was achieved despite the driver feeling “stranded” at the start.
Albon initially struggled on the medium tyre and was stuck in the midfield, but his car “came alive” as he reeled off some brilliant moves.
One victim was former Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo, who was subject to a ripping overtake set up from Turn 9 and completed on the outside of Turn 11.
Another highlight was a hair-raising overtake on Sergio Perez on the final lap, with the Racing Point driver forcing Albon onto the grass at over 300km/h. Both drivers were summoned to the stewards, but no action was taken.
“I’m a little bit — I won’t say disappointed — I struggled at the start of the race, I struggled to get past any cars,” Albon said.
“And on the medium tyre it felt a little bit stranded, I was a bit in no man’s land.
“We pitted a little bit earlier than I’d like then the car came alive and felt really good.
“Straightaway it felt like ‘okay, we can make some moves’ and of course overtaking is easier when you have a fast car under your seat.”
As a fellow rookie, Albon acknowledged the sadness of the weekend: “Of course I think everyone especially us rookies know Anthoine very well.
“It’s one of those things you never really think it’s going to happen to you, never mind someone else. It’s been a very stressful few hours.
“No one’s had a great focus this weekend, this morning felt strange. It’s crazy really. It’s just one of those things.”
Red Bull team members celebrate Albon’s stunning performance.Source: Getty Images
Horner was delighted with his new driver, saying Albon did a “mature job” on a difficult weekend.
“I think Alex has impressed me all weekend with his approach, his feedback, and his pace,” Horner said.
“In the first half of the race we weren’t quite as competitive on the harder tyre as we were on the softer tyre but he didn’t make any silly mistakes or take any silly risks. He just dialled himself in.
“We said you’ll find the car comes alive in the second half of the race and it certainly did with him and his moves.
“His move on Daniel, his other passes, his move past Sergio [Perez] on the last lap, were extremely impressive.”
Source: Fox News