RACE DEBRIEF

    It was effectively the one remaining 2019 Formula 1 seat yet to be nailed down, and Toro Rosso have now given us the news many were waiting for – F2 star Alexander Albon will race for the Italian squad next season…

    Albon, who will partner Daniil Kvyat and replaces Brendon Hartley, joins after an impressive season in F2, which saw him go into the season-ending Abu Dhabi weekend as one of only two drivers who could have claimed the title, although he ultimately lost out to George Russell.

    The London-born Thai driver, 22, had one sole season with the Red Bull Junior Programme in 2012, and looked set to race in Formula E next season, but has now been confirmed as an F1 driver, and will be the first Thai on the grid since Prince Bira in 1955.

    He said: “It’s such an amazing feeling to know that I’m in Formula 1 next year. 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.”

    Franz Tost, Toro Rosso Team Principal, added: “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.”

    Albon is the third 2018 Formula 2 driver to make the climb up to F1 next year, following in footsteps of McLaren-bound Lando Norris and Williams-bound Russell.

    The 2019 F1 grid as it stands

    • Mercedes – Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas
    • Ferrari – Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc
    • Red Bull - Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly
    • Renault – Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg
    • Haas – Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen
    • McLaren – Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris
    • Force India – Sergio Perez and TBC*
    • Toro Rosso – Daniil Kvyat and Alexander Albon
    • Sauber – Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi
    • Williams – George Russell and Robert Kubica
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