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13 September 2020 22:35

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Alex Albon thanks Red Bull team for sticking with him after he takes first podium at Tuscan GP

Suffolk F1 driver Alex Albon scores first podium in chaotic race Alex Albon celebrates his first F1 podium Picture: MARK THOMPSON/GETTY IMAGES Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool Suffolk raised F1 driver Alex Albon has finished third to earn his first podium at an F1 race following a tumultuous Tuscan grand prix. Albon, who grew up in Bures near Sudbury but who drives for Red Bull Racing under a Thai license, was racing in the sport's first ever race at the Mugello track in Italy. The former Ipswich School pupil had qualified a career best fourth on Saturday session and joined his Dutch team mate Max Verstappen on the second row of the grid for Sunday's race. Verstappen lost power only a few laps in to leave the him the only Red Bull Racing driver out on track. Following further battles and a second red flag, Alex set out for the final laps of the race in fourth position.

The 3rd place finish follows a difficult season for Alex Albon who failed to the finish the first race of the season in Austria and ended up 15th at last week's Italian grand prix at Monza. Red Bull driver Alexander Albon of Thailand steers his car during the third practice session ahead of the Grand Prix of Tuscany at the Mugello circuit in Scarperia, Italy, Saturday, Sept. (Bryn Lennon, Pool via AP) Red Bull driver Alexander Albon of Thailand steers his car during the third practice session ahead of the Grand Prix of Tuscany at the Mugello circuit in Scarperia, Italy, Saturday, Sept. Alex Albon scored a first career podium in F1 as the Brit-Thai driver took third for Red Bull at a chaotic Tuscan Grand Prix. The driver finished 3rd for the Milton Keynes-based team, taking them back onto the podium after neither car finished in the points last week.

It means Red Bull has its first podium delivered by a driver other than Max Verstappen since Daniel Ricciardo won the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix, with Albon doing so after a chaotic race that was stopped twice following huge crashes. The Dutchman reported engine trouble on the pre-race lap to the grid that wasn't fixed, and despite seemingly making a better start than pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton, he quickly dropped down the order into the midfield from a starting position of third. Its likely this would've lead to an early retirement had he even made it round one lap, but before he could make it that far, Verstappen was wiped out by a major crash involving Kimi Raikkonen, Romain Grosjean and last week's race winner Pierre Gasly that triggered the first safety car of the day. When that had calmed down, Albon was in a fight with Daniel Ricciardo and Lance Stroll in the final stages for third until Stroll suffered a puncture at high speed and major crash that triggered the second red flag. After that, Albon again lost places at another on-the-grid restart, but roared back, with late moves on Sergio Perez and Ricciardo getting the Brit-Thai driver to third and with it his first podium in Formula 1.

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. 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." Meanwhile, his team-mate Verstappen was disappointed at back-to-back retirements, after an engine failure saw him fail to finish last week's race at Monza. 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." Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo revealed he tried to exploit Alex Albon's inexperience and nervousness in his bid to end his podium drought. Ricciardo showed strong pace throughout the inaugural race at Mugello, running a comfortable third before a red flag with 14 laps remaining caused by Lance Stroll's crash at the flat-out right-hander of Arrabbiata 2. Even though Ricciardo felt his chance of his first podium for just over two years had gone at that point, he still held out hope of pressurising Albon into a mistake bearing in mind the British-Thai driver had yet to finish in the top three.

Ricciardo spent much of the race ahead of Albon, who struggled for pace after dropping from fourth at the start, which left him dumbfounded as to his speed in the final stint. Thai racer Alex Albon thanked Red Bull for their faith in him after he took his first Formula One podium finish at the Tuscan Grand Prix. The British-born 24-year-old finished third behind the Mercedes drivers at the Ferrari-owned circuit to become the first Thai on the podium since the championship started in 1950. Gasly won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza a week ago in a shock result and his form since being demoted, coupled with Albon having a tough time alongside Max Verstappen, had added to the pressure. "Thanks for sticking with me," Albon said over the team radio after a race that saw Verstappen retire on the opening lap.

Team boss Christian Horner, who had indicated earlier in the week that Red Bull were happy with the Thai, said he was pleased for him. Alex Albon thanked his Red Bull team for their confidence in him, after he scored his maiden Formula One podium at the Tuscan Grand Prix. The British-born Thai driver produced a daring move around the outside of Renault's Daniel Ricciardo to seal third place, finishing not far behind the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. It comes at the right time for Albon who has struggled this season in the Red Bull in comparison to his team-mate Max Verstappen. Alex Albon was delighted after taking his first ever F1 podium at the Tuscan GP with 3rd place He had to fight for the podium, passing Daniel Ricciardo for the position with 8 laps to go Pierre Gasly's victory for the Red Bull junior team Alpha Tauri at the Italian Grand Prix last week, piled more pressure onto the 24-year-old. After Albon crossed the line to take his first trophy in F1, team boss Christian Horner told him over the radio: 'Well done Alex, you did it the hard way today. His comments came after some speculation over whether Red Bull should demote Albon to the junior team and swap him back around with Gasly. Gasly struggled in the Red Bull before the team's bosses placed Albon in the senior team from the Belgian Grand Prix last season. At both the Brazilian Grand Prix last season and the Austrian Grand Prix this year, Albon was in place for a podium before coming on the wrong end of a collision with Hamilton on both occasions. The third time was a charm for him at the Tuscan Grand Prix however, after he scrapped his way onto the podium with an impressive move on former Red Bull driver Ricciardo. After finally getting his coveted podium, Albon said: 'Obviously a while to get here - and it was a tough one. With the result Albon now sits in fifth place in the drivers standings on 63 points, while team-mate Max Verstappen sits in third on 110 points.