Toro Rosso have completed their driver line-up for 2019 as Alex Albon has been signed alongside Daniil Kvyat.
22 year old F2 racer Alex Albon, who raced for DAMS and contended for the title, has been signed in place of Brendon Hartley for 2019.
Having signed a contract to race for Nissan in Formula E for the upcoming season, Albon sought to get out of this contractual bind as Formula E pre-season testing began, with Nissan boss Jean-Paul Driot confirming to FormulaSpy that a call from Red Bull had come. Nissan chose to not get in the way of Albon’s F1 ambitions.
Having been dropped from the Red Bull young driver programme in 2012, Albon was dropped two years later, but has now been picked back up again to replace Hartley, who also went through the same process with the team’s youth academy.
While Albon was born and raised in the UK, he races with a Thai licence, meaning he is the first Thai driver since Prince Bira who raced in the 50s.
“It’s such an amazing feeling to know that I’m in Formula 1 next year.” enthused Albon. “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.”
Team boss Franz Tost welcomed Albon to Formula 1, saying: “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.”
This signing means that Brendon Hartley leaves the F1 grid, with no confirmed plans for 2019.