Alexander Albon’s whirlwind 18 months in which he’s both a begged for a seat and turned his back on a manufacturer drive, has culminated in a promotion to one of Formula 1’s elite teams just 12 races into his F1 career.
Peter Fox (Getty)
Albon will replace the struggling Pierre Gasly at Red Bull from the Belgian Grand Prix onwards. Gasly, who has failed to score a podium in his 12 races since being promoted to Red Bull, will return to Toro Rosso in a straight seat swap.
The circumstances by which Albon has found himself in this position are remarkable. Hollywood take note, depending on how the next few months and years go, you could have a blockbuster retelling on your hands.
Filling Fernando Alonso’s shoes is no mean feat and a challenge that now poetically falls upon Carlos Sainz Jr, who has made no secret of the fact that he was an Alonso fan growing up.
The baton has been transferred from one Spaniard to another and the hopes of a nation along with it, at a McLaren team currently in strife and with a long road to recovery ahead. Does Sainz have what it takes to live up to that challenge?
When watching Formula 1 races, I steer clear of Twitter. It’s for the same reason as for why it’s best to avoid reviews of a film before watching it for the first time – it’s better not to have someone else’s opinion impeding on your own impressions.
My first reaction when the chequered flag fell on Sunday afternoon – ‘what a brilliant race.’ Safe to say, it was rather surprising to see that the Twitter machine had fired into a frenzy to the contrary, with fans lamenting what they believed to have been a boring race.
Even Fernando Alonso powerfully described it as “the most boring F1 race ever.”
While the top six may have finished in the same positions that they started and overtaking was at a premium, the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix was far better than the critics would lead you to believe.
Brendon Hartley is not necessarily a household name. Despite this, his upcoming cameo appearance in Formula 1 filling in for the ‘trophy hunting’ Pierre Gasly at Toro Rosso, could not be any more exciting.
Hartley has been a World Endurance Championship factory LMP1 driver at Porsche since 2014. Alongside team-mates Timo Bernhard and Earl Bamber, the New Zealander is likely to secure a second WEC title this season to couple with his 2015 crown. Despite his achievements in prototype racing, the news of his imminent F1 debut is a seismic shock.
2017 has been a year to expect the unexpected in world motorsport. Hartley’s imminent F1 bow is as surprising a storyline as Fernando Alonso’s Indy 500 escapade and injects another fascinating narrative into the 2018 F1 driver market.
Despite 2018’s front running seats being locked down by their incumbents, it appears that a midfield shuffle is about to be triggered by Carlos Sainz Jr. Bizarrely, it would seem that power unit politics is the factor that is set to fuel a move for Sainz from Toro Rosso to Renault for 2018.
It is a switch which makes perfect sense, as it benefits all five parties that are either directly or indirectly involved; Red Bull, Renault, Toro Rosso, the beleaguered McLaren and – most poignantly – Sainz himself.
Just 48 hours after taking his first race victory of the 2015 campaign around the Circuit de Barcelona, column inches are once again being devoted to Nico Rosberg this evening as he topped the timesheet in the first day of in-season testing. The German’s table topping effort was marginally faster than his best time posted on Saturday afternoon, good enough for pole position. However, today’s best was posted during a tyre test, in which an unmarked compound was used, making the testing timesheet even more academic than usual.