Aligned from P6 on the grid, Albon retreated rather than forward in Portimao and completed a rather modest P12 to put more pressure on himself to retain his Red Bull racing seat for 2021.
Christian Horner had said before the lights went out that the Portimao and Imola races would play a role in Red Bull’s decision for 2021, but Palmer suspects the decision may have already been made given the latest performance. d’Albon.
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“It was a horrible race for him, really, really horrible,” Palmer told BBC Five Live’s Checkered Flag podcast.
“He retreated at the start on soft tires and he should have had the tires to potentially advance when you consider that there were middle riders behind, Leclerc ahead on the mediums and the two Mercedes cars of course which struggled with the warm-up.
“But Albon fell out of the top 10, then did he overtake again in Grand Prix? I don’t think he did. He finished P12 behind Kimi Raikkonen.
“Raikkonen was fifth and the rest of the midfielder practically all passed Raikkonen including Sebastian Vettel at the end who knocked out Kimi in points.
“But Albon was pretty much behind him the entire race, behind an Alfa Romeo that qualified P16. He was simply unable to make inroads.
“It was a really tough race. He was lapped by his teammate. When the pressure was on he probably had the worst weekend… I would say it was his worst race yet for Red Bull. It seems terribly timed.
“I think the time is up for him. Unless Red Bull finds in the data that he had a damaged floor, damaged car, or some other mitigating circumstance for his ride, honestly, I imagine that was the last nail in the coffin for Albon.
If Albon loses his Red Bull seat, Palmer believes he will land in AlphaTauri’s safety net alongside Pierre Gasly.
He added: “It’s so difficult [for him] but I don’t think he will come out of Formula 1. I’m sure he will return to AlphaTauri to regroup like Pierre Gasly did.
“And then you never know what’s going to happen. He is only in his second year in Formula 1. ”
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