Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says Pierre Gasly’s remarkable rise up the ranks in Formula 1 will only enhanced his status as a star in the making.

Following the shock decision by Daniel Ricciardo to switch to Renault from 2019, it left Red Bull with a surprise driver seat to fill alongside Max Verstappen for next season.

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Gasly and fellow Red Bull-backed driver Carlos Sainz Jr became the clear candidates, but with the Spanish driver opting to sign for McLaren from next year to replace Fernando Alonso, the Milton Keynes-based squad has put its faith in the young French driver.

Having made his F1 debut less than a year ago at Toro Rosso, at the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix, Gasly will graduate up to Red Bull next season and brings with him a vital year of experience with the Honda package as the team prepares to make the switch in 2019.

Horner says he’s been impressed by Gasly's recent rise, who scored Honda’s best F1 result since its return to the sport with fourth place at the Bahrain Grand Prix, and is confident he can continue to develop at the Red Bull squad.

“Since Pierre first stepped into a F1 seat with Scuderia Toro Rosso less than a year ago he has proved the undoubted talent that Red Bull has nurtured since his early career,” Horner said.

“His stellar performances this year at the Honda-powered team, in only his first full season, have only enhanced his reputation as one of the most exciting young drivers in motorsport and we look forward to Pierre bringing his speed, skill and attitude to the team in 2019.

“While our immediate focus remains fully on achieving our best result in the 2018 World Championship, we look forward to competing in 2019 with Max and Pierre at the wheel of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing.”

Gasly joined the Red Bull junior programme in 2013 during his move up to the Formula Renault 3.5 Series where he finished runner-up to Sainz.

The French driver’s chance to jump into F1 looked uncertain after winning the 2016 GP2 Series but with no room in the Red Bull-backed teams he was shipped out to Super Formula in Japan where his relationship with Honda flourished.

Gasly’s graduation leaves Toro Rosso a hole to fill in its F1 driver line-up for 2019 with Brendon Hartley expected to be retained as its lead driver next year. With limited options in the Red Bull junior programme, rumours point towards securing a deal from outside its ranks with McLaren reserve and test driver Lando Norris linked with a loan move.

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