In a rather strange revelation, Red Bull motorsport boss, Dr. Helmut Marko, has stated that they signed former academy driver, Alexander Albon, for Toro Rosso next season because they could not afford the wages demanded by their primary target, Sebastian Buemi.
Buemi was apparently approached first to become the second driver for Toro Rosso alongside another returning Red Bull graduate, Daniil Kvyat, but the amount he earned driving in Formula E and the World Endurance Championship could not be matched by the Red Bull bosses.
“He earns very, very good money in Formula E,” Marko told Motorsport-Total. “He’s in a happy environment. We could not offer him the same salary he earns in Formula E and the World Endurance Championship at Toro Rosso.”
Though he is not in a race seat with Red Bull or its sister team, Toro Rosso, Swiss driver Buemi continues to be associated with the Austrian team as he recently signed an extension to be their reserve driver for the eighth year in a row.
He is an ex-Formula 1 driver, having been on the grid with Toro Rosso in 2009, 2010 and 2011, driving alongside Sebastian Bourdais and Jamie Alguersari in his three years with the team. He failed to impress his team bosses though and was dropped in favour of Daniel Ricciardo in 2012.
Since then, he has gone from strength to strength though in other forms of motor racing. He has been ever present in Formula E since its inception in 2014 and has been prolific too, winning one world championship and consistently challenging for the others.
This year, he also became winner of the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, driving for Toyota with Fernando Alonso and Kazuki Nakajima. He also tasted success previously in the championship, winning the 2014 WEC title.