Amidst all the rumours and speculations, things are finally starting to take their place. After Pascal Wehrlein sealed a deal with Mahindra Racing for the next season of Formula E, Toro Rosso’s shortlist was down to three drivers (Read about it here). And now it seems more than certain that Alexander Albon will be partnering Daniil Kvyat in Toro Rosso for 2019.
Alexander Albon, the Thai-British racer, who earlier signed with Nissan to race for them in 2018-19 Formula E season, is set to terminate his contract and race in Formula One in 2019 for Toro Rosso Honda.
He was inducted in the Red Bull drivers program in 2012 but was later dropped. He’s impressed so far in the current season of Formula 2, having taken 4 race wins and 3 pole positions en route to currently being second in the championship.
Formula Spy reported that Red Bull led the negotiation talks with Nissan in allowing Albon an exit from his contract.
“Alex called me and then Helmut Marko called me from Japan and I knew that as the process was starting we had to go ahead and find a solution,” said Nissan boss Jean-Paul Driot.
“When you have a 22-year-old driver who has an opportunity to go to F1 we all know what it is for them, it’s their life,” said Driot.
“We know we could battle with the contract, because we have a contract, it’s quite clear. But you cannot compromise the career of a young guy.”
When confronted with the same, Red Bull boss Christian Horner denied that a deal for Albon was already in place.
“Look, there’s nothing fixed. There are obviously lots of rumours at the moment. A lot of speculation that inevitably surfaces around that seat but from a Red Bull Racing point of view, we take a keen interest in young talents and it’s great to see young talent continue to get that opportunity through a lot of Formulas.
“He [Albon] is a driver that has been on the Red Bull programme previously, he’s a talented driver. That’s what we’re all about. It’s not about nationalities but about the ability to deliver under pressure at this level so nothing really that I can add to that at the moment.” he said.
To further solidify the speculations, Albon missed his testing duties for Nissan and instead was replaced by his could-be teammate, Alexander Buemi. Later Oliver Rowland, the Williams junior, was announced as his replacement for the remainder of the on going testing.
This could only mean that he is closer than ever to finalising a deal with Toro Rosso. There’s nothing official yet, but as it comes, we’ll keep you updated.