Lewis Hamilton has urged Red Bull to rein in their ruthless approach to young drivers and offer the London-born Alex Albon a new contract.
The 23-year-old has steadily impressed following his mid-season promotion from Toro Rosso.
Albon, who attended Houston Rockets’ NBA victory over Oklahoma Thunder on Monday night ahead of this weekend’s US GP, has outscored Max Verstappen by 19 points in their short period as team-mates.
He has also accrued just three points fewer than Pierre Gasly, the driver whom he replaced, in his six races for Red Bull, compared to the Frenchman’s 12.
Hamilton, who trailed Albon in the opening laps of the Mexican Grand Prix last Sunday, said: “Alex has got a bright future ahead of him and I hope Red Bull give him the support over the years.
“It’s very, very important because they often spit drivers out pretty quick if they don’t always do the job. I hope they’re good to him.
“It’s also real challenge to go up against a driver in Max that’s spoken so highly of by so many people and built up onto a pedestal.”
Albon, who until this year had never driven a Formula One car, was dropped from the Red Bull junior programme in 2012, just months after his Thai mother Kankamol was sentenced to six years in prison for fraud.
Hamilton, set to close out his sixth world championship in Austin on Sunday, added: “He has come in so young, with all the difficulties he’s had in his life as well. His story is quite an interesting one, succeeding against all adversity. So, on Sunday, it was quite cool to just sit and view him for a second.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: “Alex has scored more points than Max since the summer break, which you never would have expected.
“He is doing a very good job considering it’s his first year in Formula One. He’s getting stronger and stronger, he works very hard, he has good feedback in the car and I think he’s impressed the whole team with his attitude and application.”