It’s official: Alex Albon will retain his place in one of the hottest seats in Formula 1 in 2020, with Red Bull confirming he will continue to partner Max Verstappen next season.
Originally drafted in late last season to drive for Toro Rosso in 2019, Albon found himself moved into the senior Red Bull team from the Belgian Grand Prix onwards, as Pierre Gasly was moved in the other direction.
And it seems that the Thai driver has done enough in his seven races with the team – where he’s enjoyed a best finish of fourth at the Japanese Grand Prix – to impress his Red Bull paymasters and maintain keep his seat there for 2020
Alex has performed extremely well since his debut with the team in Belgium and his results – seven finishes in the top six – speak for themselves,” said Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner.
“It’s extremely hard to deny that level of consistency and in tandem with a growing reputation as a tenacious, fiercely committed racer, Alex has proved that he fully deserves to continue his progress with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing. There is plenty of potential still to unlock and we look forward to seeing Alex alongside Max in 2020.” “I am really excited to be partnering Max again for next year,” said Albon. “And I know how fortunate I am to be given this opportunity. I’m hugely thankful that Red Bull have put their trust in me and believed in my results since I joined the team and for them to keep me in the car next year is a big deal.
“This year has been an incredible year for me and getting the call up to Red Bull mid-season was already a big step, so now I will use the learnings from this season and use the experience to improve and fight at the front in 2020.
The news continues the remarkable reversal in the career fortunes of Albon who, having been supported by Red Bull during his prodigious karting career, found himself dropped from the Austrian firm’s junior programme in 2012 after a difficult start to his single-seater career.
However, his performance in Formula 2 last season – where he finished third, behind current Williams and McLaren drivers George Russell and Lando Norris – persuaded Red Bull to offer him the Toro Rosso drive for 2019, as a replacement for Brendon Hartley, before he was promoted again to the Red Bull seat at the start of this year’s summer break.
Albon’s announcement, meanwhile, will come as a blow for several drivers on the grid, particularly Gasly and Toro Rosso team mate Daniil Kvyat, with neither driver’s return to the Red Bull team they were demoted from – Kvyat in 2016, Gasly on the back of his difficult start to 2019 – looking imminent.
More obliquely, the news shuts down another potential avenue for out-going Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg, who had been linked in some quarters to the second seat at Red Bull.