Hartley out, Albon in at Toro Rosso

If you were hoping Brendon Hartley would survive to see another season in Formula 1, you hopes have been dashed today as Toro Rosso has just announced his replacement for the 2019 season.

The team have signed Alexander Albon instead and he will join the returning Daniil Kvyat next year.

STR Press Release:

Scuderia Toro Rosso is pleased to announce that Alexander Albon will drive for the team in the 2019 Formula 1 season, alongside Daniil Kvyat.

The 22-year-old British/Thai driver has had a very impressive season in Formula 2 this year and, up until last weekend in Abu Dhabi, he was one of only two drivers who could have won the title. A start line collision in the feature race ended his hopes, but he still finished third overall in the F1 feeder series with a total of four wins.

Like all his contemporaries, Albon started racing in karts winning various championships. He joined the Red Bull program 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.”

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Tom Firth

I hope Toro Rosso includes a spot of yellow and a lighter shade of blue next year.