Red Bull has made a shocking midseason driver change, taking the bold decision to replace Pierre Gasly with Toro Rosso driver Alexander Albon this week.
Albon will be the man behind the wheel for Red Bull when the Belgian Grand Prix comes around on September 1, while Gasly is set to finish the year at Toro Rosso.
The 23-year-old Albon finished his first Formula 1 season as the runner-up in last year’s FIA Formula 2 championship and has earned Red Bull’s faith with his maturity and skill in the driver’s seat. He has scored 16 points from his 12 Grand Prix runs; his best result came in the form of a sixth-place finish at his first wet F1 Race in Germany.
Gasly, on the other hand, has struggled all year and it’s now very apparent that Red Bull would rather take the risk with Albon.
“Red Bull are in the unique position of having four talented Formula One drivers under contract who can be rotated between Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso,” their statement reads. “The team will use the next nine races to evaluate Alex’s performance in order to make an informed decision as to who will drive alongside Max in 2020.”
This is nothing new for Red Bull, who famously swapped Danil Kvyat with Max Verstappen in 2016, demoting the former to Toro Rosso. The move worked out quite well and they will hope that it will pay off this time around.
Gasly impressed at Toro Rosso last year and can’t be accused of suddenly losing form. However, the energy drink company just doesn’t feel like he has adjusted quickly enough for Red Bull. Albon, though, has a bit of a reputation for adapting speedily.
Perhaps no one was more surprised than the British-born Thai driver when he found out he was being called up at this point in the season.
“Surreal to have been given this massive opportunity @redbullracing!” he posted on Twitter following the news. “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!
“Thanks to all the guys at @ToroRosso, especially [team principal] Franz Tost for the massive opportunity in F1 and never-ending support throughout my first year!
“Now to focus for my first race with the team in Spa.”
Bet365 has odds of 50/1 on Albon winning the Belgian Grand Prix next month but William Hill is offering 80/1. To find the latest odds and predictions check this F1 betting guide which also has great betting offers and enhanced odds.
888sport has a new customer offer featuring odds of 8/1 on favorite Lewis Hamilton, 50/1 on Verstappen and 50/1 on second favorite Sebastian Vettel. Meanwhile, Ladbrokes has odds of 11/4 on Charles Leclerc and 6/1 on Valtteri Bottas. Albon is currently among the top six favorites for first place and everyone else below is in the triple and quadruple figure region. If you’re feeling lucky and want to have a go at 1000/1 on Carlos Sainz or Lando Norris, William Hill has you covered.
As it pertains to the Red Bull swap, there’s always the risk of Albon doing worse than Gasly. But if this works out, they will probably have two pairs of competent drivers in both tiers.