F1 Winter Break
All F1 seats filled: Alex Albon signs for Toro Rosso for 2019
Posted By: Editor   |  26 Nov 2018   |  8:46 pm GMT  |  51 comments

Toro Rosso have announced that Alexander Albon has secured promotion into F1 and will partner Daniil Kvyat at the team in 2019.

Having previously been dropped from the Red Bull young driver programme, Albon has done enough to convince the team to change their mind and hand him a drive for the 2019.

Dan Ticktum’s Macau GP win put him almost within reach of the points needed for an F1 superlicence – he could have made it with success over the winter in the Toyota series – but Red Bull bosses Christian Horner and Helmut Marko clearly feel he needs a little more preparation before F1.

He’s expected to race next season in Superformula in Japan – following Pierre Gasky’s stint there. It’s only a matter of time before we see Ticktum in Toro Rosso.

With Formula One options initially looking limited for Albon, he had elected not to wait around in the feeder series for another season and signed for Nissan to be part of their Formula E programme. But the call of Formula One sparked negotiations to release him from his Nissan contract.

The timing was poor for Nissan, who are on the verge for starting the fifth Formula E season. However, an agreement was reached to break Albon’s contract.

“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,” said Albon.

“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.”

He finished runner-up to Charles Leclerc in his only GP3 season in 2016 before being promoted to Formula Two. There, he proved to be a consistent points-scorer and podium challenger with ART before moving on to DAMS for 2018.

Taking four wins in 2018, Albon entered the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend as an outside contender for the Formula Two championship. However, a problematic final weekend meant he finished in third place, behind champion George Russell and Lando Norris.

Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost praised the racing ability Albon managed to show throughout his Formula Two campaign.

“Alexander had an impressive Formula 2 season in 2018. He won four races and finished the Championship third,” said Tost.

“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 effectively all twenty seats have been decided for F1 2019. However, Force India are yet to formally announce Lance Stroll, despite an agreement being in place.

By: Luke Murphy

All images: Motorsport Images

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I feel that STR (and Honda) had some great improvements with Hartley, even if he had some reliability issues throughout the season and had some poor choices on the strategy side. I feel Kvyiat comes with some Ferrari knowledge and some Russian money. I think it is a worthy choice, even though I believe Hartley is more consistent than Kvyiat on track. I am saying this because Toro Rosso was just a Honda Lab this year as they were working to improve the Honda Engine for Red Bull next season. I feel Hartley deserved one more year at least. But more talented people had fewer chances than him.

Albon was a bold choice, but I believe he deserves a shot. The kid had a good season showing some improvements, growing as a driver.

Toro Rosso has a good pair of drivers, IMHO. McLaren and Williams, those teams I cannot feel it.

Kubica was WDC material, but, after that accident in Italy and all the time away from the category? Also, the team was a mess. At least he comes with his knowledge and Polish money.

McLaren I believe it will improve. I believe they will pack that Renault engine properly by now. There is still good people in there. I just do not believe Sainz is the right name to lead the charge on track. Let’s see how Norris will do.

And so many comments about Stroll… I think he is good. That podium in Baku last year showed that. With a decent Force India, I think he in the points consistently. Will he outscore Perez? Probably not, but I think some races one will qualify better than the other and that will alter the outcome in track.


Excellent news. While he’s perhaps not a top drawer talent like Max, Gasly, Leclerc etc, Albon’s had a strong junior career and I think he’s more than earned his shot. Just don’t ever buy a car from his mum.


Vandoorne would surely have been a better choice.


Good move and Albon deserves a shot. Hartley is ok but not a potential winner. I’m not completely excited by Gasley either but let’s see how it goes.


Suppose we will ever get back to actual racing cars without PU that can be operated by boys with fast fingers ?


Big Whoop.


Another driver who was de-listed by Red Bull now gets a second chance.

Seems to me that RB are just treading water with the Toro Rosso team until, perhaps, Honda buys it outright as a “factory team” and inserts their own desired drivers ?


Not sure why Mateshitz even bothers anymore


Toro Rosso is supposed to be there for promising young drivers, so they need to take a punt.

Kyviat showed enough speed before, just spectacular lack of judgment, so he’s worth another chance.

Albon is a risk, he’s a decent record, but not spectacular, but I’ve enjoyed some of his drives in F2 this year, and he’s got some “go” about him.

I’m not sorry for Hartley, he got a chance that he really didn’t have the speed for, he got more than a year, and even allowing for some bad luck he showed next to nothing as potential to be retained.

If F1 is to be the pinnacle of the sport then deadwood must be cut more frequently, and other drivers given a chance. For too many years there were too many sub standard drivers in F1.

Merc – Hamilton a no brainer, Bottas very lucky he signed up before his slump otherwise Ocon would be there.

Ferrari – Vettel was fantastic in the first half of season then completely lost the plot, Raikonnen woke up for longer than normal. If Leclerc is fast then Vettel has an enormous problem next year…

Red Bull – Max a no brainier, and can he start the season as he ended this one? Ricciardo was great in races but didn’t qualify near enough to Max, and has apparently committed career suicide as any team run by Abiteboul will not win anything (anyone who has worked in a large organisation will recognise the type of big boss who says all the right things and doesn’t actually get them done).

Renault – Hulkenberg did well, will be interesting to see how he compares to Ricciardo. Sainz seems to have slipped back into being slightly less than good enough vs his teammate.

Force India – Perez steady, decent speed, but not spectacular, but did outpoint Ocon significantly. Ocon, qualified well, but I’m not getting the hype, and he should be spanking Perez to be the next big thing.

Haas – Grosjean erratic as normal, and after so many years he really should be gone from F1 – how many points has he lost Haas this year vs points gained? Magnusson had a lot of early and mid season points then was blown away by Grosjean late season – Why Haas?

McLaren – Alonso pushed as normal, self publicised himself as normal. A flawed great and will be missed. Vandoorne was absolutely abject, yes we know he’s against Alonso, but he wasn’t in the same league, and is devoid of personality. Sainz is lucky to have a rookie in the team next year, and I think it’s too early for Norris personally.

Toro Rosso – Am I alone in wondering why Gasly has apparently shown enough to be promoted to a top 3 team? He was faster than Hartley, but that’s not exactly difficult. Hartley had, and now has no place in F1. Kyvat deserves a chance again, Albon is a complete punt and an unknown in F1. I’d have loved Ticktum to have been given a chance, but Superlicence points exclude this.

Sauber – Leclerc seems to be the real deal. Fast and consistent, but with a bit of a doubt in the wet – will be in good company with Vettel there 😉 Ericsson has somehow survived so many seasons of mediocrity, and is finally put out to pasture. How motivated will Kimi be? Do Sauber have enough of a budget for carbon fibre for Giovinazzi?

Williams – I suppose we’ll at least get Stroll benchmarked against Perez next year, but assuming Stroll is kak, then that means Sirotkin is too. Terrible car, terrible drivers. Strange choice for next season, a rookie and a driver with a lot of obstacles to being fast. Great story for Kubica, and I hope it goes well. I hope the car is not a dud next year too. Russell looks promising from the F2 I’ve seen this year, fast, and also smart when he’s not fast.


Alright, all seats have finally been decided. So Alb is the latest and last newbie. Let’s see how they all will perform. I can guarantee almost that at least 2 of them will not be returning for season 2020. I love it that there will be so many new drivers on the grid for 2019 and will follow the selection process closely during the season. Regarding Har, well he had the chance and it became clear that his driving style, (or skill set), was not the one needed for F1.


Another churn in the Bulls driver ranks. At least the guys from Honda have some class and praise him for his input to their gains this past season.


Here seems as good a place as any to pour scorn on the F2 calendar towards the end of the season – round 9 of 11 was at Monza at the start of September, then a four week gap to round 10 in Sochi, then an EIGHT week gap until the series finale in Abu Dhabi.


I’ve been impressed with Albon in F2, especially his one lap pace. Will be interesting to see if he can kick on in F1.


Had to look up his racing record and by current standards it is a bit underwhelming when put up against some of those missing out next season Sad but that is the current state of F1.. we do not get all of the best drivers out there. Let’s hope he outperforms his CV and gives us some great racing.


I don’t think there’s much wrong with his CV, personally. We’ve gotten used to rookies routinely arriving into F1 with glittering CVs in recent years, but that never used to be the norm.

When it comes to junior formulae, there’s only so much you can read into past results because your ability to win is a factor of which team you drive for and where you stand in that team’s pecking order. What you want to see is progress – evidence that the driver is getting better and Albon has that. I’m not sure he has the potential to race for the top team, but I think he’ll do well. And he’ll need to with Dan Ticktum banging on the door, as will Kvyat who is surely drinking in the last chance saloon.


#kennycw. Fully see what you are saying about historic seasons. Just for me this current season looks like a bottle neck of junior series champions. With the next few seasons not looking like letting up I do question the TR line up. The key to all this looks like contracts and competing sponsors getting in the way of the best drivers getting on the grid.


I shall be watching Albon closely and i certainly hope that his drive will be an inspiration to assist me in getting my grandson interested in F1. My grandson has an identical lineage by way of race and parent make up. All very very good. Love the inclusion.


#kenneth … I hope he does well enough to keep your granson interested


@ TomX Thank you for the comment. It will be hard ,as he’s back in Thailand but i will still be giving him some encouragement from here on the ‘Goldie’.


So no more Brendon Hartley. Pity – I quite like him but I feel he was clearly slower than Gasly. Having said that, he was probably the unluckiest driver behind Danny this year.

Tornillo Amarillo

Stroll will finish higher than all these babies in Williams, McLaren and Toro Rosso, look if Lance qualifies P8 and passes up to 5 cars in lap 1… I mean he will fight with Ricciardo, Kimi, and Hulk for the title of “best of the rest”!!!

OK I’ll better get another Boreal now 🙂


Tornillo Amarillo,
Your posts about Hamilton make me laugh but this is just something else, hillarious. I actually lolled for like two minutes.


Lolled SBkkk?
I didn’t realise they had hooded white seals on the beach waving one flipper up in the air. But I can see you’d probably have a very short top lip Tash inside your pointy hood…similar to your mad leader wizard 😱 . Assume it’s the grand wizard BBQ bring a pudding for the next lolled event. I hear the Trump The Orange Panda might be making an entrance.😂


What babies? Kubica, Sainz and Kvyat? Obviously not.

Oh, the 3 F2 graduates. You mean the 3 stand out drivers in F2 this year? Like Leclerc, Gasly, Grosjean and Hamilton in different years?

Glad you are defending Lance, but, really? babies… tut, tut


Let’s face it, Lance Stroll doesn’t need a contract for Force India. His dad, a billionaire, owns the team. Lance is never going to want for money, so it’s enough for the two of them just to talk over the kitchen table. What purpose would a contract, or a formal announcement, serve?


Lawrence Stroll does not own Force India, Racing Point owns Force India and Lawrence Stroll is one of Racing Point’s seven major shareholders. I believe that is a large contributor to Lance not being formally declared as a Force India driver yet. Whilst Lawrence may have absolute faith in his son’s ability, the other six may need more convincing that their money is best spent putting Lance on the grid. If Checo blasts Lance into the weeds it will not be long before the team owners look for another driver, whether Lawrence Stroll likes it or not.


if Perez blast Stroll, which will happen very much,

FI will be looking for another driver, yes, to replace Perez,

because dady Stroll will not be very happy with his son being humiliated by a team mate aaaaagain.

Stroll next season will be running first agains Checo, but then in the middle will be Hulk and Ric,

whom clearly are in a different league, then he will have RAI, GRO, MAG, common,

so easily Stroll will be like 12th in drivers championship if not worst,

just because of the car he might end infront of 2 maclaren, 2 TR, 2 williams maybe.. MAYBE…

a shame OCO couldn’t hold that seat.


Well that is a surprise as i thought the Nissan contract had him locked down. I don’t know the guy but he sounds like a good enough bloke personality wise and the fact that he was third in the F2 championship. It’s good to see both him and Kyvat getting a second chance. I hope they both do well next year and impress as Gasly has impressed.


I imagine Red Bull got it’s cheque book out. Nissan will have known that the pull of F1 is too much for a young racing driver to bear, plus the buyout clause in the contract probably covered a nice chunk of their FE season, which will be nice for them.


My thinking is that Red Bull realize that Gasly is a risk and may well not make it in the main team. I also don’t see Gasly filling the role of Red Bull brand ambassador particularly well .. speaking for myself and few of friends, we don’t warm up to him at all. Riccardo’s departure has left a huge hole on many levels, therefore Red Bull need to take a few risks, and maybe spend some extra cash, to get plan B in place sooner rather than later. I do like the way Red Bull do business … can be ruthless at times but that is the name of the game in F1.

I do wish Brendon Hartley all the best in his future endeavors and am glad that Honda have acknowledge his contribution. Bravo Honda.


I think the risk with Gasly is that he’s young, very fast, totally ruthless and more than a little bit in love with himself, just like Max. I don’t think there’s much to doubt in his ability (he matched Max’s best of 4th in the STR), but Max only barely got along with Dan, Max and Pierre could all end in tears very quickly.


But really I think they will be racing the Honda engine and RB’s infamous build quality first, then each other second.


So, STR now has two drivers for 2019 they don’t want!


Brendon did a great job but had some bad luck. Not to worry, Toro Rosso will never amount to anything anyway and they’re never going to be in contention for anything, just like every other team with the exception of Mercedes and Ferrari. There’s very little racing in F1 and 14 out of 20 cars have zero chance of winning any race unless the front 6 crash out of it.

Brendon should keep his chin up. F1 has degenerated into just a lot of high priced hype, and not much else. Brendon should set his sights on IndyCar where the real racing is.


Spot on Craig just a dog and pony show now


Tough luck for Hartley, but maybe he can come back if Red Bull run out of drivers again.


I’m really disappointed for Hartley – when he finally got his aggro on in the last couple of races this season after getting used to single seaters again he was really starting to bother Gasly, the guy that has just been drafted into the senior team.

Hartley had a season punctuated by dreadful reliability and compromised strategies.

Now we have another victim of the phrase about nice guys. He deserved better.


Another Brit on The F1 grid okay okay I know he is driving under Thai Flag.
Still congrats to the London Lad. Yep he’ll get support from the Thai fans and The Brits 👍
Hope he gives Mr Torpedo a run for his money. Kvyat the return of the Torpedo with no sense of direction.
Albon all the way 👍yep another one for Redline “Little Englander!” Mode comment😂
Congrats to Albon👏👏
Assume Hartley will end up re


Hartley will end up as reserve driver or back to WEC or Formula E


I have to say I think RB young driver programme has a real problem – Kyvat , Hartley and now Albon have all been dumped then brought back and in Hartley’s case dumped again . It’s like Marko can’t be bothered/has lost motivation to develop new drivers anymore so he’s having to delve into the rejects bin. I’m sceptical about how this is going to go but i’m opened minded . Welcome to the grid Albon , Sorry Brendon you like Stoffel and Marcus were not good enough.

In my opinion the smartest move of F1’s musical chairs is that of Kimi Raikkonen not only have Sauber signed a ex-WDC but by staying with a Ferrari customer he has put himself in the shop window to return to Maranello as a no risk, reliable and known quantity back up plan for 2020 should Leclerc not do the business alongside Vettel provided Vettel does well enough himself to stay on for 2020.


I tend to agree ST. Putting aside the super licence restrictions. I think the RB career path has taken a battering lately.
I think most have come to expect that if you aren’t good enough in the TR then you will have had a short shelf life.
But more recently the treatment of drivers in the RB team, namely Kvyat and more recently Ricciardo have not painted a goal to aspire to. I suspect the swept path for Verstappen has made potential drivers think twice about what they are up for, particularly given Max is so young and his tenure seeming long term. The chance to drive for a championship will only reside with him for a long time. The drivers that want to do the same will realise that there are a couple of other capable seats that will more like come up before a winning RB seat, even if they did feel like they would be given the same opportunities.


The changes to the Super License rules have rather crippled Red Bull’s young driver program (and everyone else’s). They are prevented from moving young hot shoes (and also nobodies with rich backers) through the ranks as quickly as possible, now the young drivers have to win and win a lot before they can even be considered for F1. For the record I think this is a good thing, a year and a bit ago Leclerc and Gasly were being largely ignored until the new rules forced the team’s hand. Now we have the top 3 in Formula 2 being promoted to F1 and the previous two champions driving for top teams.


In all practical cases, this should be the end of line for Kimi. There is no going back to Ferrari. But, chances of Kimi defying this is non-zero.


Hamilton was nearly dropped by Mclaren, only a great drive in Turkey caused them to reconsider!!!


Utter rubbish Buzzzzzz
Which Fox news channel did that spring from ?



I was reading an article on Hamilton some time ago.


Fair enough can you remember the article and what publication ?
I doubt they’d drop him unless it was the time around the whole Nicole Scherzinger seperation thing 1st time round. Then again he was a young gun and this was being played out live. Martin Brundle stated it was not a great thing for a young driver going through the emotional mill live on tv.




Marko is abit of a Bond Villian. He says one thing to camera, but when the cameras are off him.
He can be seen sitting behind a glass desk in and Indian Black up collar, long suit , stroking a white cat (like the boss of Spectre). With his foot on a trap door button. Sharks get Hartley for supper this time round. He definitely is a scheming slime machine.

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