Red Bull boss Christian Horner thinks Alex Albon would be matching Pierre Gasly if they were teammates at AlphaTauri this season.
Albon's poor form continued at the Portuguese Grand Prix, where he finished 12th while Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen claimed a podium. Gasly finished fifth, continuing the remarkable run of performances that included his shock win at the Italian Grand Prix in September.
Gasly's poor form last year paved the way for Albon to replace him at Red Bull, but the team has ruled out a reversal of that move. If Albon is replaced, Red Bull is likely to sign either Sergio Perez or Nico Hulkenberg.
When asked after Sunday's race at Portimao what the black mark against Gasly is, Horner replied: "We have a lot of information on the drivers over a big period of time. Pierre's done a super job today and he's driving very well in that environment with AlphaTauri, he's comfortable in that car with perhaps the less pressure that goes with that environment as well, and less expectation.
"I think their aspirations as a team are different to when it was Toro Rosso, so it makes sense that the fit works well in both directions with Pierre and the AlphaTauri team."
Horner went on to suggest Albon would be having the same super run of form Gasly is currently enjoying if their roles were reversed.
"I think the [Red Bull] car is a more difficult car to drive than the AlphaTauri, we know that and it's very, very clear. The car is much more rear-sensitive and I think that can be unnerving for drivers. Max copes with that incredibly well, other drivers have struggled more with that. I think that's just the facts of it.
"I think if Alex was in an AlphaTauri he'd probably be doing a very similar job to what we saw with Pierre, I have no doubts of that. It's just the characteristics of our car, they're struggling to commit on corner entry and you see it a little bit with the Ferrari with Leclerc and Vettel at the moment, you see it in the race with [Lewis] Hamilton and [Valtteri] Bottas today. That's just the way it is sometimes."
Red Bull has chosen exclusively from its pool of drivers since Mark Webber's departure from the team at the end of 2013. Horner said it makes sense to make a departure from that philosophy with such big names on the market.
"I think that you've got to look at all of the options. I don't think we'd be doing our job if we didn't look at the situation within Formula One that there are obviously drivers that have significant experience and ability, it's a very unusual situation they could be available.
"So our first and foremost priority is to give Alex the opportunity to lay claim to that seat. Let's not forget when he jumped in that car last year, he outscored and outperformed Pierre significantly in the balance of 2019. If we were to swap them back, why would it be any different?"
Red Bull is expected to make its decision on Albon's future in November.