Alexander Albon confirmed at Toro Rosso for 2019 F1 season

Toro Rosso has confirmed that Alexander Albon will race for the team in Formula 1 next season, completing its 2019 driver line-up.

Albon was a member of Red Bull’s young driver programme during his nascent single-seater days, but was ultimately dropped, and was then briefly part of Gravity’s scheme.

Albon rose through the ranks to finish runner-up to Ferrari-bound Charles Leclerc in GP3 in 2016 and this year emerged as a front-runner in Formula 2, finishing third behind Williams-bound George Russell and McLaren-bound Lando Norris.

"It's such an amazing feeling to know that I'm in Formula 1 next year," said the Anglo-Thai racer. "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 [Helmut] 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."

Albon had originally penned a deal to switch to Formula E with the DAMS-run Nissan squad for 2018/19, but he will now instead step up to Formula 1 with Toro Rosso. 

"Alexander had an impressive Formula 2 season in 2018," added team principal Franz Tost. "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."

The 22-year-old's promotion means there will be four rookies on the 2019 grid, with three of them the leading trio in this year’s Formula 2 championship.

Albon will partner Daniil Kvyat at the Faenza-based operation, with the Russian back for his third stint, and his arrival leaves Brendon Hartley without a seat. 

Hartley has scored only four points in Formula 1 since debuting at last year’s United States Grand Prix. 

Toro Rosso initially eyed Red Bull junior Daniel Ticktum for its 2019 vacancy but the Briton did not acquire the required number of Super License points, having placed second in Formula 3.