What effect will Albon's switch have on the F1 drivers market for 2020

14-08-2019 08:04 | Updated: 14-08-2019 11:59
by Matt Gretton
General
What effect will Albon's switch have on the F1 drivers market for 2020

Red Bull announced that Alex Albon will be replacing Pierre Gasly for the remainder of the 2020 Formula 1 season. The Austrian team say they've not made a decision on who will become Max Verstappen's teammate in 2020, but the next few races will go a long way to decide that. 

With Gasly's seat in doubt before he got the midseason chop, the Frenchman can only perform well in the Toro Rosso and regularly score if he stands a chance of regaining his seat. He also has to rely on some poor results from Albon, but if that happens, Red Bull might look outside of their usual recruitment method. 

Option 1: Alex Albon 

Albon has got the outcome in his own hands. The British-Thai driver has got the opportunity to control his own destiny in the next nine Formula 1 races. To be successful, he must close the gap to Verstappen in qualifying, and almost match his results on Sunday. If Albon can contribute to the points and then Red Bull might be able to topple Ferrari in the Formula 1 constructors championship. 

For Red Bull, having Albon in the seat will give him half-a-season of experience at the top. It'll give both parties something to work on if they decide to keep the driver line-up for next season. 

Option 2: Former Red Bull drivers 

If Albon fails to impress, Red Bull will need to look outside of the box. They might be able to look at familiar faces including Carlos Sainz, Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel who are already known by Red Bull. It's unclear on how well Verstappen and Sainz get on after previous exchanges and why would Sainz leave an improving McLaren? With a new contact? Both Ricciardo and Vettel will have heavy price tags with the latter on a long term project with Ferrari. 

The only feasible option there would be for Ricciardo to break ties with Renault early and return to his old team. 

Option 3: Outside the Red Bull programme

Something that's rare for Red Bull. Exploring the drivers market. It might just be what's needed, to get someone who has the experience and know-how at the top to match Verstappen's performances in the RB15. Nico Hulkenberg's name has been splashed around this season, but he has already spoken about extending his contract with Renault. 

Sergio Perez or Kevin Magnussen? They're both in good shape with their teams SportPesa Racing Point and Haas, but Haas might want to make a driver change anyway due to the recent collisions with Romain Grosjean and Magnussen. Should Mercedes keep Valtteri Bottas for another year, they'll probably be forced into dropping Esteban Ocon. 

Ocon has shown good performances for Force India in the past but was sidelined after missing out on a seat in Formula 1 for the 2020 season. Ocon and Verstappen haven't had the greatest history together, so the Red Bull team-building staff might have some work to do. Of course, should Mercedes keep Ocon and ditch Bottas, the Finn could end up slotting in at Red Bull as another number 2 driver, but this time to Verstappen? 

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