HOW THE ALBON/GASLY SWAP COULD LEAD KVYAT TO A BRIGHTER FUTURE
We knew Pierre Gasly would be on the way out at the end of 2019, but we weren't expecting Red Bull to axe Gasly halfway through the season. Sure, Red Bull have a history of it, axing Daniil Kvyat in May 2016 with Max Verstappen being promoted, but it was said, from Red Bull, that it was extremely likely that Gasly would remain with the team until the end of the season.
But what we weren't expecting was that Thai-Brit driver Alexander Albon would be promoted to the big team. The twenty-three year old has only had twelve races in Formula One so far, but has impressed all, taking sixteen points for Toro Rosso including a stand-out drive in the German Grand Prix, in which he finished in sixth place, in his first wet race of Formula One.
Here is the official statement:
"Alexander Albon is being promoted to Aston Martin Red Bull Racing to drive alongside Max Verstappen, while Pierre Gasly 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 Aston Martin Red Bull Racing 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 Aston Martin Red Bull Racing looks forward to welcoming Alex to the Team and supporting him during the next phase of his F1 career."
If a swap was coming, I think 95% of people were expecting Russian Daniil Kvyat to get a surprise return to the team considering he has scored twenty-seven points, stands ninth in the drivers championship and scored a podium in the wet German Grand Prix.
This would have been an incredible ark for Daniil Kvyat, who is just twenty-five but has had one of the most topsy-turvy careers in Formula One. The Russian began his F1 career in 2014, racing for Toro Rosso at the tender age of twenty years old, and immediately impressed, although his team-mate Vergne scored more than double his points.
Miraculously, Kvyat got the step up to Red Bull after just one years worth of experience, prompting Jean-Eric Vergne to angrily leave the sport and join FE, where he is now a two-time champion.
Unfortunately for Kvyat, the 2015 season was one of the worst for Red Bull, with the Renault-powered team the fourth fastest on the grid, but amazingly Kvyat outscored his team-mate Ricciardo, and finished second in Hungary to claim his first podium.
And you know the rest of the story from here, but for Kvyat fans, there are two options that could still see the young Russian reach heights that he deserves.
1: PROMOTION TO RED BULL IN 2020
Albon's replacement of Gasly showcases that Red Bull won't be looking outside of their driver programme, despite interest from Valtteri Bottas and Nico Hulkenberg, and the 2020 drive will be decided between Albon and Kvyat.
Whilst Albon may have the advantage considering he'll be working with Red Bull for the next nine races, if the Thai-Brit driver cannot exceed what Gasly was at, then why would they keep him for the 2020 season?
In a way, this is a massive risk for Albon's future with Red Bull, as he only has nine races with the team, and will need to adjust quickly - although he does have the Summer Break to work with the team.
If Albon cannot improve on the pace Gasly was setting with Red Bull in the first half of the season, then Red Bull's last option in their drivers programme is Daniil Kvyat, who has showcased the pace that could match Max Verstappen. So Kvyat fans, hold out on your anger, there is still about a 33% chance of him getting the 2020 seat at Red Bull.
2: REMAIN AT TORO ROSSO IN 2020, PROMOTION TO FERRARI IN 2021
OK, this one is less logical, but let me explain. In the interlude for Kvyat's career in 2018, he signed up as the Ferrari Development Driver, shared with two other drivers including Antonio Giovinazzi, and has strong connections to the team due to this.
Sebastian Vettel will not retire from the sport in 2019. Let's be clear with that. The German will remain with Ferrari until the end of 2020 for sure, entering his sixth season with the Italian manufacturer, and there is more than a 50% chance right now that Vettel will leave. Whether or not he leaves for another team, including the possibility of a return to Red Bull, or retires, that is for another article, but Ferrari have no clear replacement for the four time World Champion... or do they?
Ferrari compiled a list of contenders to replace Vettel, including Grosjean, Magnussen, Bottas and Perez, but what about Kvyat? The Russian will be 27, in his prime in terms of experience and raw pace, and would be an ideal choice to partner Charles Leclerc in the future of Formula One. Just a thought.
So what do you think? Will Albon's promotion help Kvyat's case for a 2020 seat in Red Bull? Or will the three-time podium taker race for Ferrari in 2021? And who will race with Max Verstappen at Red Bull in 2020? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.