Alex Albon likely boosted once again his chances of remaining with Red Bull in 2020 after an impressive recovery drive in Austin earned him a big accolade from team boss Christian Horner.
Albon head into the first corner determined to steer clear of any trouble, but found himself unwillingly sandwiched by Charles Leclerc on his left and Carlos Sainz on his right.
A heavy contact ensued between the Red Bull and the McLaren, knocking both cars off course but forcing Albon into the pits for a front wing change.
The British-Thai racer put in a spirited effort thereafter however, skillfully racing up the order during his successive stints, dispatching his rivals to finally lock in a fully deserved fifth-place finish and ‘Driver of the Day’ award.
“He’s done a great job today, Alex,” enthused Horner.
“He was unlucky at the first corner, he ended up on a pincer-move, his comeback on what turned out to be three-stop strategy for him today.
“I think he passed Carlos Sainz about three times. I think we counted something like 15, 16 overtakes today!
“It’s a strong recovery, I think you forget that he’s in his first year, even. We’ve been really encouraged with the development he’s been making – another positive day for him.”
Albon labeled his first corner clash a racing incident, but while his front wing was replaced he still had floor damage to contend with on his RB15.
“We had a good start, obviously we were on the softer tyres, always helps,” he explained.
“Coming into Turn 1, on the exit, I saw Charles on the inside, basically I tried to put myself as close to Charles as I could because I knew I was going to get better drive coming out of the corner.
“I was expecting Charles to go – the Bottas line – out-and-in, he didn’t. I think I got sandwiched.
“No one’s fault, really, one of those things, we took some front wing damage, some floor damage. I was like ‘here we go, it’s going to be a long day’.”