Alex Albon may end up as the “surprise of the season” if he can build on his strong second half to 2019, according to Red Bull boss Christian Horner.

The Anglo-Thai driver proved a revelation during his debut Formula 1 campaign, earning a mid-season call-up to the Red Bull senior team for the final nine races.

Albon scored points in all but one of his outings for the energy drinks firm, with a best finish of fourth at the Japanese Grand Prix.

While many believe Albon is under pressure to raise his game and match the performances of team-mate Max Verstappen in 2020, Horner is optimistic he can meet the team’s lofty expectations.

“For Alex, people do forget it’s his second season in Formula 1 and he’s missed sort of the first half of that, so it’s been a baptism by fire – but he coped with that incredibly well last year,” said Horner, as quoted by The-Race.

“He seems to deal with pressure very well and we’re just looking for him to make progress on where he finished last season.

“I think opportunities will present themselves for him and I really think he could be the surprise of the season in many respects this year.”

Ahead of the season-opening race in Austria, Albon conducted a filming day at Silverstone last Thursday – his first laps in the RB16 since winter testing at Barcelona in February.

Albon was happy to brush the “dust of his shoulders” after more than 100 days out of the car, which he admits adds to the uncertainty drivers will experience at the first race weekend.

“I feel good. “There’s [been] so much time [away from the track] that, with any driver, there’s going to be that level of uncertainty as to what’s going to happen,” Albon said.

“I’m glad I did the filming day to get that initial dust off my shoulders but I’m excited, we’ve all been waiting for this.

“There’s been a long drought, we all do this because we love it and we’ve missed it, so I can’t wait to get started.”