06:30 14 Aug 2019
Red Bull Racing-Honda have announced that they have replaced Pierre Gasly with Alexander Albon for the rest of the 2019 Formula 1 season.
Thailand national Albon has been promoted from Red Bull’s ‘sister’ team Toro Rosso, with Gasly going in the opposite direction and returning to the outfit he drove for in 2018.
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The 23-year-old Frenchman struggled to adapt to the high demands of a top team. He is sixth in the Drivers’ Championship with 63 points.
By comparison, teammate Max Verstappen has racked up two wins, 181 points and sits in third place in the standings – the ‘best of the rest’ behind the dominant Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
Red Bull say they will “use the next nine races to evaluate Alex’s performance” and make a “decision as to who will drive alongside Max in 2020”.
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In Gasly’s last outing in Hungary – the final race before a mid-season break – he finished sixth and was lapped by Verstappen, who finished second behind championship leader Hamilton.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said after the race: “Pierre really needs to take some time out during the break, reflect, and take the lessons into the second part of the year.
“We desperately need him realising more of the potential of the car.”
The next round of the Formula 1 season will be held at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium on 1 September.
Nico Hulkenberg plays down Formula E links
Nico Hulkenberg has played down speculation that he will switch to Formula E and drive for Porsche’s entry in the all-electric series after the completion of the 2019 Formula 1 season.
The German faces an uncertain future at Renault’s F1 team. His contract will expire at the end of the season and his seat could well be taken by Esteban Ocon – provided the latter does not end up driving for Mercedes alongside Lewis Hamilton.
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This has led to suggestions that Hulkenberg could switch to FE and drive for Porsche, who will participate in their first FE season in 2019/20. He has worked with the manufacturer before, notably winning Le Mans with them in 2015.
However, the German driver insists his focus remains on Formula 1.
“I’m not ready for Formula E yet. I like what I’m doing,” he said via GrandPrix247.
“It will obviously depend on the opportunities available, but for now, I’m focusing exclusively on Formula 1.”
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Hulkenberg has voiced some frustration at the lack of performance from Renault in recent weeks and has also been named as a potential Haas option should they drop Romain Grosjean for 2020.
“There are always rumours, it’s like that in F1,” the 10-year veteran added.
“I’m still pretty confident about staying in Formula 1. There is not much that has changed since last week.”