Brendon Hartley's stay in Grand Prix racing is over, with Toro Rosso securing the services of 22-year-old Formula Two third place finisher Alexander Albon for 2019.
Anglo-Thai driver Albon makes the third 2018 Formula Two driver to be promoted to Grand Prix racing next season, the young four-time F2 race winner joining up with 2018 champion George Russell for Williams, and support category runner up Lando Norris in the McLaren Renault team.
“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,” Albon said.
“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 (their motorsport consultant) Dr (Helmut) Marko for believing in me and giving me a second chance.”Albon looked set to make the switch to the Nissan e.dams Formula E team next year, however with Toro Rosso seemingly unhappy with the performances of former World Endurance Champion Brendon Hartley this season, the Italian team have spent the last few weeks negotiating with representatives of the Nissan team to free the driver from his commitments for the coming year, bringing an end to the short F1 career of Hartley and adding yet another new rookie name to the grid next season.
For his part, Albon will be making a return to the Red Bull when he lines up for Toro Rosso in 2019, having been dropped by the Austrian team in 2012 during his formative years working through the motorsport ladder. However with a superb 2018 behind him, Red Bull have once again dipped back into their pool of former driving talent to recruit the youngster for Toro Rosso, teaming Albon up with fellow returnee Daniil Kvyat next season - a move team principle Franz Tost thinks the 2018 DAMS driver is now ready to exploit:
“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,” said the Austrian.
With Albon now confirmed the 2019 Formula One grid is complete, and all that remains is the long wait until the lights go green in Melbourne on March 17th.