Alexander Albon admits his shock mid-season promotion to Red Bull’s senior outfit is a “big jump into the deep end” but describes the call-up as “surreal”.
Red Bull announced on Monday that Albon would be replacing Pierre Gasly for the rest of the season after the Frenchman’s difficult transition from Toro Rosso.
The energy drinks firm is aiming to overhaul Ferrari in the battle for second in the constructors’ standings, lying 44 points adrift of its rivals with nine races remaining.
Albon is understood to be in contention for a full-time Red Bull seat in 2020, as the team evaluates his performances over the coming races before deciding who will partner Max Verstappen next season.
“Surreal to have been given this massive opportunity [by Red Bull],” Albon wrote in a statement on social media.
“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 Toro Rosso, 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.”
Albon’s promotion marks a remarkable rise to a front-running Formula 1 team, having had no drive at the start of 2018 before finishing third in the Formula 2 championship later that year.
He later signed a deal with Nissan e.dams in Formula E but was courted by Toro Rosso to take up the second race seat alongside Daniil Kvyat this season.
The London-born driver sits 15th in the drivers’ standings at the halfway mark, scoring points at five races with a best finish of sixth at the German Grand Prix.