It’s official Alex Albon will replace Pierre Gasly at the Belgium grand prix for the rest of the 2019 season. Find out my thoughts on what this means for Albon, Gasly, Kvyat and Red Bulls driver lineup for 2020.
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Red Bull finally do it: Gasly’s out, Albon is in
After month of defending him, Red Bull have finally dropped Pierre Gasly down to Toro Rosso and have promoted Alex Albon to Red Bull from the Belgian Grand Prix onwards.
Gasly has been under fire for much of this year’s campaign with the Frenchman struggling to match team-mate Max Verstappen.
While the Dutchman has won two grands prix, Austria and Germany, Gasly’s best result was a P4 at the British GP.
Despite his poor results the team continued to defend him publicly, insisting they would continue with the 23-year-old through to the end of this season.
However, after his P6 in Hungary, a race in which he was lapped by Verstappen, Red Bull have now decided enough is enough.
The team announced on Monday that Gasly would be returning to Toro Rosso while Albon, who was a late call up to Toro Rosso for this year’s championship, has been promoted to Red Bull.
“Alexander Albon is being promoted to the Team to drive alongside Max, while Pierre will return to the Red Bull sister team, Scuderia Toro Rosso.
“Red Bull are in the unique position of having four talented Formula One drivers under contract who can be rotated between the team and Toro Rosso.
“The team will use the next nine races to evaluate Alex’s performance in order to make an informed decision as to who will drive alongside Max in 2020.
“Everyone at the team looks forward to welcoming Alex and supporting him during the next phase of his F1 career.”
Surprisingly Daniil Kvyat, despite bagging a podium at the German Grand Prix, has not the only Red Bull decided to promote, keeping him at Toro Rosso with Gasly.
Red Bull drop Pierre Gasly and promote Alex Albon
Red Bull have dropped Pierre Gasly and appointed Alex Albon as Max Verstappen’s new team-mate.
The change will take place with immediate effect, starting at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Gasly was appointed Verstappen’s team-mate at the start of the season following Daniel Ricciardo’s departure to Renault.
But the highly-regarded youngster has struggled to keep pace with Verstappen, and his demotion, while ruthless, had been widely predicted.
Gasly will return to Toro Rosso and partner Daniil Kvyat.
Rookie Albon only began his F1 career in March.
In a statement, Red Bull said: ‘The team will use the next nine races to evaluate Alex’s performance in order to make an informed decision as to who will drive alongside Max in 2020.’
The London-born Thai driver has consistently impressed this season, although it is Kvyat, himself a former Red Bull driver, who has scored the majority of Toro Rosso’s points to date.
Gasly’s form and future had become a frequent topic of conversation and speculation through the summer.
Although Christian Horner told reporters after the Hungarian GP “our intention is to leave him in the car until the end of the year”, the Red Bull boss added that “we desperately need to see him realising more of the potential of the car.”
Gasly’s struggles were particularly acute in Budapest. While Verstappen challenged from victory after taking pole position, Gasly only qualified sixth, 0.8s adrift of Verstappen, and then finished behind McLaren’s Carlos Sainz in the race.
Gasly’s half-season haul of 63 points compares to 181 for Verstappen and was a substantial handicap in Red Bull’s battle with Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship.
“Aston Martin Red Bull Racing will race with a new driver line-up from the Belgian Grand Prix onwards.
“Alexander Albon is being promoted to Aston Martin Red Bull Racing to drive alongside Max Verstappen, while Pierre Gasly will return to the Red Bull sister team, Scuderia Toro Rosso.