Toro Rosso has selected Alexander Albon as its second driver for the 2019 season, meaning Brendon Hartley loses his seat in Formula 1.
Albon excelled during this season’s Formula 2 championship, taking the title fight against George Russell down to the final round in Abu Dhabi before the future Williams driver won the penultimate race. Albon eventually finished third overall behind Lando Norris, but had already done enough to impress Toro Rosso, having previously been on Red Bull’s books in 2012 as part of its junior team.
The Thai-British driver will partner Daniil Kvyat in 2019, and says he was motivated by the challenge of reaching F1 despite being dropped by Red Bull earlier in his career.
“It’s such an amazing feeling to know that I’m in Formula 1 next year,” Albon said. “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. (Helmut) 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 move means all of the top three finishers in this year’s Formula 2 championship have earned F1 seats next season, with Albon joining Russell and Norris on the grid, and Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost admits the 22-year-old’s performances against those two stood out.
“Alexander had an impressive Formula 2 season in 2018,” Tost said. “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.”