Earlier today, Red Bull announced that Alex Albon will partner Max Verstappen in place of Pierre Gasly. In the meantime, the struggling Gasly has been brought back to Toro Rosso alongside Daniil Kvyat. In Red Bull’s words, Albon will be monitored closely for the remainder of 2019 before a permanent decision for 2020 is taken.
This is not the first time a driver has been dropped by Red Bull and demoted to the sister team. If we actually think about it, Toro Rosso has officially become the Red Bull rejects team. Back in 2016, Daniil Kvyat was ousted early from Red Bull to make way for none other than Max Verstappen. So, Kvyat could possibly lend a sympathetic ear to a disappointed Gasly, having gone through the process himself.
So, the big question is, will Pierre Gasly end up as another driver who had his career nearly ruined by Red Bull? The Austrian outfit already has a reputation for having very high expectations for the drivers in their academy. There have been times when Toro Rosso drivers have been slated to join the senior team. However, for most of them, the furthest they would get is a reserve driver role with Red Bull Racing.
Naturally, the loss of a chance to race in a top team is bound to deal a major blow to a driver’s confidence. Drivers like Carlos Sainz were never promoted and carted off elsewhere. Sainz was dropped off at Renault in 2018, before he moved to McLaren, where he is performing exceptionally well. However, he did much better because his reputation was not tainted and he was set free from Red Bull’s ruthless programme. Some of the victims were, Sebastian Buemi, who made it as far as the reserve driver role, Jean-Eric Vergne, Antonio Felix da Costa and a number of other drivers.
In fact, the latter three are now competing in Formula E and two of them are champions. So, it is nice to see that some of the Red Bull rejects have been able to pick up their career. Another victim was Brendon Hartley, who finally got a chance to race in Formula One in 2018 after so many years in the Red Bull programme, but only when he was in his late 20s. Finally, young drivers like Daniel Ticktum were let go from the programme and the remaining ones do not have a superlicense. This will certainly make their decisions for 2020 tougher if one of their current quartet is dropped.