It was revealed yesterday that the 23-year-old British-Thai driver Alexander Albon had been promoted to the Red Bull Formula One team in his debut F1 season.
Previously working with the team’s sister outfit Toro Rosso, Albon has greatly impressed the higher-ups, while French driver Pierre Gasly has had a disappointing season so far.
Coming third in last year’s F2 championship, Albon produced some incredible performances, including going from last to 10th at the Chinese Grand Prix and taking sixth from 17th on the grid at the Hockenheimring in dismal weather conditions.
Albon will take Gasly’s place on the Red Bull team alongside Max Verstappen for the rest of the season, while the Frenchman has been demoted into Albon’s seat with Toro Rosso.
The team is now assessing Albon’s ability before making a decision on who will join Verstappen in 2020.
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So, how did he get here with less than a year in Formula One?
Albon began competitively racing karts in 2005 at the age of eight, winning his local Hoddesdon Championship.
After just a year, Albon had finished first at the Kartmasters British Grand Prix and finished first in 2006 and second in 2007 at the Super 1 National Honda Cadet Championship.
In 2011, Albon graduated up to KF1, coming second in the WSK Euro Series and second at the CIK-FIA World Championship. Around that time, aged 14, Albon was approached by Red Bull for a sponsorship deal, which he explains in an interview with a young journalist.
When asked whether we’ll see Albon’s name on an F1 car a few years down the line, he replies: “I hope so, yeah! Obviously there’s a lot to do and I also have to have good luck, but hopefully Red Bull will put me through to F1.”
At 15-years-old, Albon signed with Red Bull as a junior team driver, with his first Renault Formula 2.0 race happening at Monza, the same year.
In 2017, after switching to European Formula 3 in 2015, Albon graduated to the FIA Formula 2 series. During his time there, Albon sustained a broken collarbone whilst mountain biking, and was left unable to compete due to the over-the-shoulder seatbelts used in F2. He then returned for the fifth round of the championship at Baku, Azerbaijan where he finished in third place.
Albon was then signed by Nissan e.Dams as one of its drivers for the 2018-19 Formula E season, but was quickly released before the start of the season to drive in the 2019 Formula One season for Toro Rosso.
In late November 2018, it was announced that Albon had joined the Toro Rosso team for 2019 alongside Daniil Kvyat.
At the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix, he finished ninth, scoring his first points. In his third race in F1, at the 2019 Chinese Grand Prix, he finished 10th and won the 2019 Chinese Grand Prix ‘Driver of the Day’ award.
It has now been announced that Albon will replace Gasly for the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix, with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing stating that: “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.”
It’s clear that Gasly’s poor performance this season lends a lot to Albon’s most recent promotion, but that doesn’t reduce the impressiveness remarkable speed at which he ascended to the top of one of the world’s greatest Formula One teams.
Albon’s life is a very inspiring story. We wish him good luck with the rest of the season.