Toro Rosso has announced Thai-British driver Alexander Albon will drive for the team alongside Daniil Kvyat in 2019.
Albon spent 2018 competing in Formula 2, eventually ending the year third overall behind George Russell and Lando Norris — both of whom have earned F1 promotions to Williams and McLaren respectively. Albon had been set to drive in Formula E for the Nissan squad but it was announced earlier today that the two parties had officially parted ways.
Albon was dropped by the Red Bull driver programme in 2012, but will return to the Red Bull family in the form of Toro Rosso.
Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda is pleased to announce that Alexander Albon will drive for the team in 2019 alongside Daniil Kvyat
— Toro Rosso (@ToroRosso) November 26, 2018
“It’s such an amazing feeling to know that I’m in Formula One next year,” Albon said. “Throughout my single seater career, I went through a few ups and downs. I was dropped by Red Bull in 2012, so from then I knew my road to Formula One was going to be a lot harder.
“I worked really hard and tried to impress every time I got in the car, and I have to say a big thank you to Red Bull and Dr [Helmut] Marko for believing in me and giving me a second chance. I’ve always been motorsport mad and since I first got in a car it’s been my dream to be in Formula One. To be given this opportunity is just incredible.”
Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost believes Albon is now ”mature enough” for the demands of F1 and highlighted his overtaking prowess in the junior categories.
“Alexander had an impressive Formula 2 season in 2018,” Tost said. ”He won four races and finished the Championship third. The way he is able to overtake many of his rivals in the races shows that he is ready and matured to race in Formula One. Scuderia Toro Rosso is very much looking forward to 2019, as with Daniil and Alex we have two young, very strong and competitive drivers.”
Albon takes the place of Kiwi Brendon Hartley who leaves the sport after just over a season in the sport. Hartley’s place at the team had been uncertain for most of the season and although he was given until the end of the season to prove he deserved another year, Red Bull’s Helmut Marko clearly decided to go back to one of his former proteges.
Albon’s 2019 teammate, Kvyat, has also previously been dropped by the Red Bull programme. The Russian driver was demoted from Red Bull to Toro Rosso in 2016 and then dropped altogether in 2017. After spending 2018 as Ferrari’s simulator driver has has been given a third chance.