Alexander Albon has shared his first thoughts on getting the Red Bull Racing drive from F1 Belgium GP onward.
The F1 community shook-up on Monday when Red Bull announced a mid-season swap with Albon coming into the senior team in place of the struggling Pierre Gasly from Belgium GP onward.
The Thai racer will partner with Max Verstappen post the summer break, as Red Bull intends to evaluate him along with the known Gasly and Daniil Kvyat , to make it a three-way shootout for a seat for the 2020 F1 season.
Albon shared his first reaction to the promotion as he said: “Surreal to have been given this massive opportunity by Red Bull Racing. Can’t thank you enough for believing in me and making this possible.
“It’s a big jump into the deep end, but I’ve got my swimming shorts on (laughs). Thanks to all the guys at Toro Rosso, especially Franz Tost for the massive opportunity in F1 and a never-ending support throughout my first year [so far].
“Now to focus for my first race with the team in Spa-Francorchamps.” As Albon mentioned, it is a big ask for the Thai racer to be a Red Bull driver after only 12 races in his F1 career, where he has impressed many.
The news has come with a mixed response, especially after what happened to Kvyat after the last swap. The Russian not only lost his confidence but the second chance as well, which forced him to join Ferrari in a non-racing role.
If the move works, it will be wonders for both but if it back-fires, it will destroy two young careers at a time when Red Bull doesn’t have the liberty or pool of talent available to come into F1 and perform.
After they dropped Dan Ticktum from the programme, the only ones at a senior level are Patricio O’Ward, Lucas Auer and Juri Vips, but superlicense points remains a problem along with lack of experience.
Looking at Honda as well, they have indicated of giving Super Formula champion Naoki Yamamoto a F1 test run in FP1 sessions but he doesn’t seem to be in the reckoning with Nobuharu Matsushita being the next best.
He returned to F2 this year with Carlin and has done well but isn’t fighting for the title. While there are few more Honda racers in F3 and or Super Formula, but none seem to be ready yet, even for a Toro Rosso drive.
Meanwhile, questions were raised regarding Kvyat not getting a drive but Red Bull were clear that the intention is to test Albon as to how he performs, since they already know the capability of Gasly and Kvyat.
Personally speaking, I am not in favour of a mid-season swap until there is injury or any emergencies. As I wrote above, it is a confidence killer, no matter how strong you are mentally.
For Red Bull, this is nothing to lose situation as they believe Albon will not do any worse than what Gasly was doing and probably they felt, things would not have improved with the Frenchman at all in the second half.