Albon takes Gasly’s seat at Red Bull, Gasly moves to Toro Rosso

August 13,2019

Alexander Albon driving his Toro Rosso at this year’s German Grand Prix. PHOTO / TORO ROSSO

THE under-performing Pierre Gasly has lost his Red Bull Racing’s seat to Toro Rosso rookie Alexander Albon. Gasly, in turn, will take Albon’s seat at Toro Rosso, Red Bull Racing’s less competitive sister team.

According to news agency Reuters, the switch marks a meteoric rise for Albon, who was racing in Formula 2 last year and seemed destined for a future with Nissan in the all-electric Formula E series before Red Bull stepped in. Red Bull had dropped him from its young driver program in 2012 but he has seized the second chance the team gave him.

Albon replaces Gasly as Max Verstappen’s teammate starting at the Belgian Grand Prix until the end of the season. The Spa-Francorchamps race is set on September 1, the first after Formula 1’s August break.

“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,” Reuters quoted Red Bull as saying in a 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.”

Being up against Verstappen will be a tough challenge for Albon as the sport’s youngest-ever race winner is on-form and seen as a champion-in-waiting.

The 21-year-old Verstappen has won two of 12 races this season and is third overall on 181 points in the championship while Gasly, the 2016 GP2 (now F2) champion, has struggled with just 63 points.

Honda-powered Red Bull Racing is third in the constructors’ standings but need both drivers finishing consistently high up to have a chance of overtaking Ferrari, which is 44 points ahead of it in second place. Reigning champion Mercedes-AMG is far in front.

Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner expressed his frustration at the most recent race in Hungary in which Verstappen started on pole position and finished second to Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, with Gasly only sixth.

“The start wasn’t great, the first lap wasn’t great and we shouldn’t be racing Saubers [the Alfa Romeo cars] and McLarens. We need him to be racing Ferrari and Mercedes. The problem is he’s not in the mix at all,” Horner said, referring to Gasly.

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