Christian Horner says nothing has been confirmed about the second seat at Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda in 2019, with rumours about the imminent signing of Alexander Albon just ‘speculation’ at this point.
The Anglo-Thai driver has reportedly been signed by Toro Rosso in place of Brendon Hartley for 2019 but so far only Daniil Kvyat has been confirmed to race for the Faenza-based squad next season.
However, Horner admits Albon is a talented driver and is under consideration for the role, and with the twenty-two-year-old having stepped away from his FIA Formula E drive with Nissan e.dams, it is even more likely that the former Red Bull Junior will join fellow FIA Formula 2 racers George Russell and Lando Norris on the Formula 1 grid in 2019.
“There’s nothing fixed. Nothing other than speculation at the moment,” said Horner to Sky Sports F1. “He is a driver that has been on the Red Bull programme previously, he’s a talented driver.
“That’s what we’re all about. It’s not about nationalities but about the ability to deliver under pressure at this level so nothing really that I can add to that at the moment.”
Despite the lack of confirmation of his arrival at Toro Rosso, Nissan e.dams boss Jean-Paul Droit has dropped a massive hint that Albon is Formula 1 bound in 2019, revealing talks with both driver and with Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko about releasing him from his Formula E contract.
Droit admits that they could have battled to keep Albon in Formula E but it was clear that the Anglo-Thai driver has Formula 1 ambitions, so it was not in their thinking to stand in the way of that ambition.
“It came out of the blue the week before. Alex called me and then Helmut Marko called me from Japan and I knew that as the process was starting we had to go ahead and find a solution,” said Driot to FormulaSpy.
“He had a three-year contract with Nissan e.dams, we planned a lot of things to do. It’s rather complicated and I think the Nissan people have been quite reasonable.
“When you have a 22-year-old driver who has an opportunity to go to F1 we all know what it is for them, it’s their life. We know we could battle with the contract, because we have a contract, it’s quite clear. But you cannot compromise the career of a young guy.
“I have always worked very close with the drivers to help them to do things. So we knew when Toro Rosso said they wanted him we knew it would be a problem to keep him, so we were just trying to find a joint solution with Toro Rosso to let him go.
“So he didn’t go in the car so that meant we didn’t run on Tuesday and Wednesday with the other car, so it’s compromising testing because when you are not on the track and you don’t test you don’t develop your car.”