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The Aston Martin Red Bull Racing F1 team is continuing to support Max Verstappen’s teammate Alex Albon.

At Spa, where Albon finished sixth, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton said he would enjoy a closer race for the world championship. And Hamilton pointed a finger at Albon.

“People downplay it but Red Bull have got a very, very strong car. Unfortunately, both drivers aren’t there like me and Valtteri (Bottas) are there,” Hamilton said.

Albon’s teammate Max Verstappen finished third at Spa. He’s also won a race and is second in the points championship. Albon is fourth in the F1 Drivers’ Championship standings, but has failed to make a podium or been able to race with the Mercedes drivers.

Hamilton said a strong teammate is crucial for the championship as well as to “play with strategy.”

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Pierre Gasly started 12th before finishing eighth at Spa.

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Some believe that a strong candidate to be better alongside Verstappen is the driver Albon replaced mid-last year, Pierre Gasly, who is now fully up to speed at Alpha Tauri. Gasly finished eighth at Spa and has finished the top 10 in three of the last four races.

Gasly raced for Red Bull for the first half of 2019 before being demoted to AlphaTauri.

“He’s doing a very good job at Alpha Tauri,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said when asked about Gasly. “They have a good car this year which may be easier to manage than ours, but Alex is great on Sundays. Today he had another good race, he is always strong on the attack, so we are moving in the right direction.”

Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko, the head of Red Bull’s driver program, agrees with Horner.

“I don’t understand the criticism of Albon,” he said. “Other teammates also had a lot of trouble with Max. I don’t see it that Max is pushing him to the limit, but that he is pushing himself. I think we have a good pairing there.”

Marko thinks Albon will do even better with the next round of car upgrades, explaining that the corona situation meant some “instability crept into the car” with the last set of developments.

“We are bringing a new front wing to Monza,” Marko said, and he is also hopeful the “party mode” (special high-performance engine settings) ban will move Red Bull even closer to Mercedes in qualifying.

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