Alexander Albon is to replace Pierre Gasly at Red Bull from the Belgian Grand Prix, the team has confirmed.
Albon was signed by Toro Rosso to partner Daniel Kvyat for its 2019 driver line-up despite initially agreeing a deal in Formula E with Nissan e.dams.
The Thai driver has impressed Red Bull bosses with his performances in his debut year, registering five points finishes, including a best of sixth in the wet-dry German Grand Prix, despite having never driven a Formula 1 car in wet conditions.
The driver swap means Gasly will return to Toro Rosso having been promoted to the senior outfit this season.
The Frenchman has struggled to match the pace of team-mate Max Verstappen, who already has two wins under his belt, sitting over 100 points adrift in the drivers’ standings.
Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko had ruled out the prospect of replacing Gasly mid-season in response to speculation over his long-term future.
Team boss Christian Horner admitted post-Hungary that Gasly’s performances were beginning to “hurt” Red Bull’s chances of overhauling Ferrari for second place in the constructors’ championship.
A statement published on Monday on Red Bull’s official website read: “Alexander Albon is being promoted to the Team to drive alongside Max, while Pierre will return to the Red Bull sister team, Scuderia Toro Rosso.
“Red Bull are in the unique position of having four talented Formula One drivers under contract who can be rotated between the Team and Toro Rosso. 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.
“Everyone at the Team looks forward to welcoming Alex and supporting him during the next phase of his F1 career.”