Alex Albon to stay at Red Bull for 2020 alongside Max Verstappen

12 November 2019, 10:05 | Updated: 12 November 2019, 13:26

Alex Albon has been rewarded for his Red Bull form with the confirmation that he will stay with the team for the 2020 season.

Albon has impressed with the former F1 champions since replacing the struggling Pierre Gasly in August, finishing in the top six in all seven of his races, and has retained his seat for at least another year.

The London-born Thai, an F1 rookie who was previously with Toro Rosso before his mid-season step-up, will partner Max Verstappen in 2020, when Red Bull hope to challenge for titles again.

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"I am really excited to be partnering Max again for next year and I know how fortunate I am to be given this opportunity," said Albon, 23.

"I'm hugely thankful that Red Bull have put their trust in me and believed in my results since I joined the team and for them to keep me in the car next year is a big deal.

"This year has been an incredible year for me and getting the call up to Red Bull mid-season was already a big step, so now I will use the learnings from this season and use the experience to improve and fight at the front in 2020."

Team boss Christian Horner added: "Alex has performed extremely well since his debut with the team in Belgium and his results - seven finishes in the top-six - speak for themselves.

"It's extremely hard to deny that level of consistency and in tandem with a growing reputation as a tenacious, fiercely committed racer, Alex has proved that he fully deserves to continue his progress with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing. There is plenty of potential still to unlock and we look forward to seeing Alex alongside Max in 2020."

Toro Rosso have meanwhile confirmed that both Gasly and Daniil Kvyat will stay with the team next season.

Described as a "young but experienced duo" by the team, Gasly and Kvyat - who have both been axed during a season by Red Bull in the past - will hope to boost their F1 credentials in the midfield.

Red Bull and Toro Rosso's announcements mean that there is only one unconfirmed seat on the grid for 2020, that of Williams.

How Albon earned his chance

Albon has enjoyed an incredible and unlikely rise in 2019. After finishing third in the F2 championship last year, behind this year's fellow F1 rookies George Russell and Lando Norris, Albon was set for Formula E - before Toro Rosso came calling for a driver who had been removed from the Red Bull academy as a junior.

Although Albon was out-scored and out-qualified by Kvyat at Toro Rosso in the first half of the year, his speed and consistency - considering he only drove an F1 car for the first time in February - was attractive for Red Bull, who came calling once deciding that Gasly wasn't up to the job.

Albon has yet to stand on the podium since making his debut in Belgium but has finished every race - despite often having to recover through the field - in the top six and has actually scored 14 points more than star team-mate Max Verstappen since joining the team.

With Red Bull adamant that Verstappen's partner would be one of the drivers in their 'pool' of three, it is therefore no surprise that they have opted for Albon.

Gasly and Kvyat stay at Toro Rosso, and both have showed signs of improvement this year. Kvyat, in his first year back in F1, has rarely let his levels drop in 2019 while Gasly has four top-10 finishes since dropping back to the junior team.

"I'm delighted to retain Pierre and Daniil for next season," said Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost. "Both drivers have shown really good performances this season and they have proven in their years in F1 to be very competitive, able to exploit the car's potential and give valuable feedback to make improvements.

"This young but experienced duo, combined with hopefully a competitive car, will be the best factors to achieve a very successful season in 2020 and I'm looking forward to this extended cooperation."

Williams now have the only vacant seat for 2020, which is expected to be filled by Nicholas Latifi.

Nico Hulkenberg looks set to leave the sport entirely.

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