In the bombshell move of the summer, Red Bull have demoted the under-performing young driver Pierre Gasly, replacing him with 2018 Formula 2 runner-up Alex Albon.
Just weeks after scoring only their second podium in Formula 1, Toro Rosso has seen one of their drivers promoted into the “senior” team. But perhaps surprisingly it’s not Russian spearhead Daniil “Torpedo” Kvyat, but impressive rookie driver Albon who got the nod.
By the numbers
On just 63 points this season, Gasly was under threat from McLaren’s “Sunday expert” Carlos Sainz Jr. By contrast Verstappen has 181, scoring two wins amongst his five podiums this season.
Gasly’s lack of performance is costing the team big time, as they sit just 44 points behind Ferrari for P2 in the Constructors’ Championship.
Head-to-head, the Toro Rosso drivers of Albon and Kvyat have scored points on 6-5 occasions, favouring Kvyat.
Can Gasly come back?
Kvyat was brought into the senior Red Bull team as a replacement for the departing Sebastian Vettel. After struggling to match teammate Daniel Ricciardo, he was dropped to Toro Rosso. Then as Toro Rosso struggled to fill their ranks, he was in and out of the team with, seemingly, no certainty until this season.
It’s clear that Red Bull saw Gasly as the 2nd best driver in their pool, but it’s also clear that they’ve seen enough to believe he’s not yet ready for primetime. The problem is, it appears that once you slide down the snake you tend not to climb back up the ladder.
You’d have to think that only some strong performances for Toro Rosso combined with a series of disastrous races for Albon would be his only salvation.