Scuderia Toro Rosso has announced that Alexander Albon will drive for the team in the 2019 Formula 1 season, alongside Daniil Kvyat. The 22-year-old British/Thai finished third in the Formula 2 Championship this year, having been in the running for overall victory until the final race.
Albon started racing in karts winning various championships. He joined the Red Bull programme in 2012. He had a great season in 2016, when he finished second in GP3 to his team-mate Charles Leclerc. This year was his second season in F2. Although born in London (UK,) Albon races under the Thailand flag. It means that 2019 will be the first time there has been a Thai driver on the Formula 1 grid since Prince Birabongse, who raced in the early Fifties.
Franz Tost, Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda Team Principal, commented: “Alexander had an impressive Formula 2 season in 2018. 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 1. Scuderia Toro Rosso is very much looking forward to 2019, as with Daniil and Alex we have two young, very strong and competitive drivers.”
Alex Albon: “It’s such an amazing feeling to know that I’m in Formula 1 next year. 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 1 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 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 1. To be given this opportunity is just incredible.”
The confirmation has been up in the air for several races, though officially Brendon Hartley was given a chance to prove himself after a troubled middle part of the 2018 season for him. Toro Rosso principal Franz Tost took the time to also express his thanks for the past season.
“We would like to thank Brendon for his hard work with the team", Tost commented.
"It was not an easy task to move from sports cars to Formula 1, especially at short notice. His consistency over the final four races of 2017 earned him a 2018 race seat and, while ultimately we were not able to continue into 2019, he has been a key part of the team and aided the development of the Honda powertrain. We wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”