It’s the bombshell of the summer: Red Bull have taken the shock decision to drop Pierre Gasly and replace him with their Toro Rosso driver Alex Albon. It follows a tough season for Gasly alongside Max Verstappen – and a stellar one for rookie Albon partnering Daniil Kvyat. Gasly will return to Toro Rosso for the remainder of the year.
Albon, in his first season of F1 after finishing runner-up in last year’s FIA Formula 2 championship, has impressed all in the paddock with his speed and maturity. The British-born Thai driver has scored 16 points from his 12 Grands Prix to date, with a best result of sixth in the rain-affected German round – his first-ever wet F1 race.
Gasly, by contrast, has spent 2019 struggling to keep pace with Verstappen. Having himself been promoted from Toro Rosso at the end of last season, he has been living firmly in the Dutchman’s shadow, scoring just 63 points to his team mate’s 181. The Frenchman has yet to appear on the podium in a car that has taken Verstappen to two race wins and three further top-three finishes and has been out-qualified by his teammate in nearly every race so far.
“Red Bull is in the unique position of having four talented Formula 1 drivers under contract who can be rotated between Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso,” said a Red Bull statement. “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 Aston Martin Red Bull Racing looks forward to welcoming Alex to the Team and supporting him during the next phase of his F1 career.”
Red Bull is, of course, no strangers to mid-season driver swaps. Verstappen arrived at the team via Toro Rosso five races into the 2016 campaign, famously winning on debut for them at the Spanish Grand Prix.