Arguably, Albon’s next best showing was in Abu Dhabi during the finale, as he was able to clear the McLaren of Lando Norris in the opening stint and close back up to the back of Hamilton under the safety car.
He didn’t drop into no man’s land after the resumption, and his P4 position prevented Mercedes from being able to change strategy to pressurise race-leader Verstappen. It was an all-too-rare example of what Red Bull has missed most in 2020 with his performance gap to his team-mate.
Team principal Christian Horner praised the drive and late-race pressure on Hamilton, calling it Albon’s “strongest race weekend”. But it came too late to save his 2021 seat, after a series of lowlights that undermined his case and chipped away his confidence, race by race.
On average, Albon was 0.686sec slower than Verstappen on a Saturday and put up an average qualifying position of seventh across the season. His average finishing position from the 16 races he made the chequered flag in was a lowly seventh — five places behind Verstappen.
For the second driver of the second-best team on the grid, he has underperformed by whichever metric you decide to measure him by, let alone directly against his team-mate.
On just seven occasions throughout the 2020 season, Albon was within 0.5sec of Verstappen during qualifying. The other 10 races he was well adrift of the only driver in identical equipment.
British GP qualifying was a particularly poor result after changing his race engineer in search of better form. Following a practice crash, he was knocked out in Q2, qualifying just ahead of Nico Hülkenberg who was stepping back into a Formula 1 car for the first time since Abu Dhabi 2019. A lap one collision earned him a five-second time penalty and he finished a lowly eighth.