After being promoted to the senior team after the summer break, Alexander Albon has impressed in his first year as an F1 driver and will be staying at Red Bull alongside Max Verstappen for 2020.
In his first season as an F1 driver, Alexander Albon’s early races as a Toro Rosso driver impressed management at Red Bull. Fast-forwarding just a few races and these performances that Albon was putting in, was putting Pierre Gasly, who was at Red Bull alongside Max Verstappen, under serious pressure. In the run-up to the Belgian GP, Red Bull made the announcement that Gasly and Albon would switch for the rest of the year.
Just a few days prior to the announcement that Albon would be staying with Red Bull, Team Principal Christian Horner admitted it was Albon’s “seat to lose.” Talking to Sky Sports F1 after the USA GP, Horner continued to say that Albon’s “got his bum in the seat at the moment and he’s doing a good job. Everybody has been impressed with the work he’s doing so far.”
Since making the jump to the senior team, Albon has finished in the top six in every race he has contested for the team and has outscored Verstappen by 19 points. This included a best finish of 4th at the Japanese GP at the home of the team’s engine supplier Honda. Although, the London born Thai driver has yet to out-qualify his Dutch teammate.
Meanwhile at Toro Rosso, the team has decided to stick with Gasly and Daniil Kvyat for 2020 with both drivers now feeling more relaxed at the Faenza-based team. Kvyat, who finished in 3rd at the German GP, said: “I’m really happy because I feel very comfortable with everyone here, I know the team and they know me very well, so it’s easy to understand everyone’s needs.”
Gasly, who has put in great performances since returning to the team he made his debut for in 2017, said: “Toro Rosso has always given me the best chances to perform every season and I’m super motivated and dedicated to repaying them with the best results possible next year.”
Team Principal, Franz Tost, was full of praise for his drivers and was optimistic about next season: “This young but experienced duo, combined with hopefully a competitive car, will be the best factors to achieve a very successful season in 2020 and I’m looking forward to this extended cooperation.”
What effect does this have on the driver market?
With Red Bull and Toro Rosso confirming their driver line-up for next season, it just leaves Williams as the only team to announce a second driver to race alongside George Russell.
The Grove based team will be parting ways with Robert Kubica at the end of the season and is in no rush to make a decision regarding their choice to partner Russell. Deputy Team Principal, Claire Williams, said: “We won’t be making our driver announcement for that second seat for 2020 until after Abu Dhabi this year.”
This seat although is expected to be taken by F2 racer Nicholas Latifi, who lies in 2nd in the championship and has competed in a number of F1 practice sessions for the team including recent races in Mexico and the USA.
Current Renault driver, Nico Hulkenberg, who is out of a seat at the French team for next season has been linked with a possible return to the team to which he made his F1 debut for in 2010. However, it has emerged that it is highly improbable that this will happen.