After the departure of Daniel Ricciardo to Renault (now Alpine) a vacancy arose at Red Bull Racing. Who would take...
No title in Formula Renault, Formula 3, Formula 2 or any other high race class. 23-year-old Alexander Albon fished long behind the net, but was given the chance to make his debut in 2019. A success, as the Thai promoted mid-year to Red Bull Racing, for which he will continue to drive in 2020.
Red Bull junior
If you do well in the karting world, you'll soon appear on the radar of the big boys in Formula 1. Alex Albon found himself on the path of Red Bull Racing and was allowed to call himself junior of the talent program. Once under the auspices of the Austrian team, the standard series were completed to prepare the young Thai for his debut in Formula 1.
It wasn't until 2014 that Albon really managed to put himself on the map, after finishing second in the Formula Renault 2.0 championship. Immediately followed the transition to the slightly higher European Formula 3 and another year later came the transition to the GP3 series. The winner of that year will be driving at Ferrari next season and will be called Charles Leclerc: Albon's teammate at ART in the 2016 season. Albon had to settle for a P2 behind his team mate, but was promoted to Formula 2.
Tug of War
After he was kicked out of the Red Bull junior program in 2012, Albon was free to choose another path that would be the standard path that Red Bull normally takes with a driver. However, Albon wanted to prove himself in the eyes of Helmut Marko and completed two Formula 2 seasons.
The first year, as in Formula 3, it was Charles Leclerc who took off with the title and Albon had to prove himself at P10. One year later, the Brit came out on top and finished third: behind George Russell and Lando Norris.
With the promotion of Russell and Norris to Formula 1, the question was which way Albon would go. Initially the Briton was designated as a driver at Nissan e.dams (next to Red Bull-test driver Sebastien Buemi), but at the end of 2018 this suddenly changed. Helmut Marko had done everything he could to get his former protégé to replace Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly at Toro Rosso, the team where Max Verstappen also started in F1.
Albon returns as a member of the Red Bull family to ride alongside Daniil Kvyat in 2019. The Nissan Formula E team was allowed to look for another driver.
However, Albon manages to leave such a good impression in 2019 that Red Bull didn’thesitate when Pierre Gasly's performance is disappointing. The Frenchman was returned to Toro Rosso and Alexander got the chance at Red Bull. That's good and at the end of 2020 Albon gets the confirmation: in 2020 Albon will drive for Red Bull as well.
Alexander Albon in 2020
After a season in which Albon started without any experience in a Formula 1 car and then managed a promotion to Red Bull Racing, the preparation for 2020 will be a lot better for Albon. The Thai can now run a thorough preparation and will be able to test the car from the winter tests, just like Max Verstappen.
However, after 2019 the biggest question remains whether Albon can really get close to his team mate. If Verstappen and Red Bull want to become world champions, that is the expectation that comes with being a teammate of the Dutchman.
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