Toro Rosso has signed Alexander Albon to complete its driver line-up for the 2019 Formula 1 season.

The British-Thai driver was a Formula 2 championship contender this season and finished third behind Lando Norris and George Russell in the 2018 standings.

Albon, who was formally part of the Red Bull junior programme in 2012, replaces Brendon Hartley and will partner the returning Daniil Kvyat to form Toro Rosso’s all-new line-up for 2019.

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He had signed a deal to race for Nissan in Formula E’s 2018/19 season but the 22-year-old was freed from his contract following an approach from Toro Rosso.

“It’s such an amazing feeling to know that I’m in Formula 1 next year," Albon said. 

"Throughout my single seater career, I went through a few ups and downs. I was dropped by Red Bull in 2012, so from then I knew my road to Formula 1 was going to be a lot harder.

"I worked really hard and tried to impress every time I got in the car, and I have to say a big thank you to Red Bull and Dr Marko for believing in me and giving me a second chance.

"I’ve always been motorsport mad and since I first got in a car it’s been my dream to be in Formula 1. To be given this opportunity is just incredible.”

Toro Rosso had been searching for new drivers after Pierre Gasly’s promotion to Red Bull was sealed following Daniel Ricciardo’s bombshell decision to join Renault, while Hartley had come under fire due to a disappointing campaign in which he scored just four points and finished 19th in the standings.

Albon impressed with the DAMS squad in his second year competing in F2, taking four victories as he emerged as Russell’s main title challenger until he was pipped in the standings by Norris at the Abu Dhabi finale.

He started the season on a round-by-round deal for the first four races in Bahrain and Azerbaijan, but a strong start to the year - including winning the Baku feature race - helped him secure a full-time contract for the rest of the campaign.

"Alexander had an impressive Formula 2 season in 2018," Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost added.

"He won four races and finished the championship third. The way he is able to overtake many of his rivals in the races shows that he is ready and matured to race in Formula 1.

"Scuderia Toro Rosso is very much looking forward to 2019, as with Daniil and Alex we have two young, very strong and competitive drivers.”

F2’s top three drivers this year have now all successfully landed F1 drives for next season, with Norris becoming Carlos Sainz's teammate at McLaren, and Russell earning a place alongside Robert Kubica at Williams.

It leaves the sole-remaining seat at Force India left to be filled in order to complete the 2019 F1 grid, with Lance Stroll expected to be confirmed in the coming days. 

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