Daniel Ricciardo’s departure from Redbull to Renault at the end of the 2018 season created a considerable driver problem for Redbull. At the time Redbull had an option to promote one of three drivers, Pierre Gasly, Brendon Hartley, and Danil Kvyat. 

Gasly was the obvious option given a series of impressive drives for Redbull’s junior team, Toro Rosso. However, Gasly failed to live up to expectations at Redbull and a series of poor performances forced Redbull to replace him with an in-form Alex Albon from Toro Rosso.

Two years later, Redbull is faced with the same problem after Albon’s struggles to extract the pace out of the RB20, which Max Verstappen has driven to one race win and several podium finishes.

Redbull team principal Christian Horner has remained adamant that Albon remains in pole position to be Verstappen’s teammate for 2021. But what other options does Redbull have ahead of the 2021 season?

1. Pierre Gasly

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – NOVEMBER 17: Race winner Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing and second placed Pierre Gasly of France and Scuderia Toro Rosso celebrate on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 17, 2019 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Mark Thompson)

Gasly is the most obvious option to replace Albon at Redbull.

After being demoted to Toro Rosso, midway through the 2019 F1 season, Gasly rediscovered his form to reach his first podium finish in Brazil  towards the end of the season and a first race win in Monza, 2020.

However, Gasly who has often been criticized for his inconsistency and inability to make up positions in race day faces a considerable challenge to replace Albon.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – DECEMBER 01: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB15 leads Pierre Gasly of France driving the (10) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR14 Honda on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 01, 2019 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Charles Coates)

2. Sergio Perez

Racing Point’s Sergio Perez will be a free agent at the end of the season after Racing point announced that they would not retain him for 2021. Perez’s availability creates an ideal opportunity for Redbull to snap up the highly-experienced driver, who can offer better support for Verstappen.

Perez has nine years experience driving in F1 and is regarded as one of the fastest drivers on the current grid. His ability to challenge for podiums throughout his career in a considerably slower Racing Point car presents a lot of promise for Redbull to mount a world championship title challenge against the dominant Mercedes outfit.

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN – APRIL 28: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB15 and Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Racing Point RP19 Mercedes battle for position during the F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at Baku City Circuit on April 28, 2019 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Dan Istitene)

3. Niko Hulkenberg

Regarded as the greatest driver yet to score an F1 podium, Hulkenberg is also a viable option for the Austrian outfit. Hulkenberg, who is without a seat after being replaced by Ocon at Renault, presents a mixture of pace and experience, which Albon has struggled to provide in his period with Redbull.

After being recalled by Racing Point to replace Perez for two race weekends in 2020, Hulkenberg showed that he still has a lot to offer to any F1. For this, he remains a key contender for the second seat at Redbull for 2021.

SOCHI, RUSSIA – SEPTEMBER 26: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB16 on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on September 26, 2020 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Dan Mullan)

Despite speculation about Redbull’s second seat, Albon remains in prime position to retain his seat for 2021. Christian Horner and Dr. Helmut Marko have remained consistent in their support for Albon.

At the same time, Albon has to improve his performance and deliver results like he did at Mugello. If he can maintain this kind of form then it would be almost certain that he would drive for Redbull in the coming season. 

However, if he fails, then Redbull would be inconsiderate not to approach more experience drivers, especially Sergio Preez.