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Alex Albon confirmed at Red Bull Racing for 2020

Alex Albon confirmed at Red Bull Racing for 2020

FORMULA ONE: Thai driver Alex Albon has been confirmed as Max Verstappen’s teammate at the race-winning Red Bull Racing squad for the 2020 Formula One season.

Formula-One
By Michael Lamonato

Wednesday 13 November 2019, 10:00AM


Alexander Albon of Thailand has been confirmed to race alongside Max Verstappen the with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team. Photo: Mark Thompson / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Alexander Albon of Thailand has been confirmed to race alongside Max Verstappen the with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team. Photo: Mark Thompson / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Albon joined the front-running team in the middle of the season and in the seven races since has impressed with his consistency, outscoring Verstappen 68 points to 57 and never finishing outside the top six.

“I’m hugely thankful that Red Bull have put their trust in me and believed in my results since I joined the team,” Albon said. “For them to keep me in the car next year is a big deal.

“I am really excited to be partnering Max again for next year and I know how fortunate I am to be given this opportunity.”

The decision completes a meteoric rise through the motorsport ranks for 23-year-old Albon, who only 12 months ago was contemplating giving up on his dream to reach racing’s premier class.

A karting world champion, Albon’s path to Red Bull Racing was a tortuous one. He was inducted into the Red Bull driver programme in 2012 but dropped after a single year of poor performance, after which he scraped together a junior career in a patchwork of different categories.

He arrived in Formula Two in 2017, and in 2018 he took the championship to the final round, where he was defeated by George Russell. But still F1 teams showed little interest in the Thai driver, forcing him into the arms of Renault’s Formula E team – until a sudden opening at Toro Rosso, Red Bull Racing’s junior F1 team, finally offered him the chance to fulfill his dream.

Despite his first experience in modern F1 machinery coming during preseason testing, Albon was solid in his early races. A points finish in China after starting from the pit lane was a particular standout that demonstrated his ability to perform under pressure, and a sixth place at the torrential German Grand Prix, his first wet F1 race, was superb.

So when Red Bull Racing final lost patience with the struggling Pierre Gasly after the first half of the season, the decision was relatively easy Red Bull management to execute a straight switch.

If Albon felt the burden of expectation in what is still his rookie F1 season, he isn’t showing it. In all seven of his races to date with the senior team he’s finished inside the top six, including a career-high fourth-place classification at the Japanese Grand Prix, to comfortably outshine the ousted Gasly and turn his retention into a formality.

“It’s extremely hard to deny that level of consistency, and in tandem with a growing reputation as a tenacious, fiercely committed racer, Alex has proved that he fully deserves to continue his progress,” Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner said.

“There is plenty of potential still to unlock, and we look forward to seeing Alex alongside Max in 2020.”

But the pressure will mount next season, when Red Bull Racing expects to capitalise on its improving form to launch its first credible title tilt since 2013. In Verstappen the team has one of the sport’s fastest drivers, and Albon will be expected to match the Dutchman to ensure maximum points for the team’s campaign.

All that in what will be only his second season racing in Formula One.

“This year has been an incredible year for me,” Albon said. “Getting the call up to Red Bull mid-season was already a big step, so now I will use the learnings from this season and use the experience to improve and fight at the front in 2020.”

Albon’s future is now entirely in his hands, and it’s anyone’s guess how far he can go.

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