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Signed in Norwich – Albon seals F1 seat with Toro Rosso thanks to Full Contact

Alexander Albon will race for Toro Rosso in Formula 1 come 2019, thanks to a superb season in F1 - and his contract signed in Norwich.

Alexander Albon will race for Toro Rosso in Formula 1 come 2019, thanks to a superb season in F1 - and his contract signed in Norwich.

Archant

Alexander Albon has completed the Formula 1 grid for the 2019 season – after putting pen to paper in Norwich.

The 22-year-old who grew up in Ipswich, will race for Red Bull sister team Toro Rosso next season alongside Daniil Kvyat after Albon’s superb season in F2 – finishing second to Wisbech star George Russell and ahead of fellow third-placed Brit, Lando Norris.

Mercedes-backed Russell is booked in at Williams for next season alongside the returning Robert Kubica, while Norris will drive for McLaren alongside Carlos Sainz – meaning a significant British injection in the 2019 F1 season.

And while both of his rivals this season had significant backing from their F1 teams, perhaps most impressive is that Albon has done it on talent alone for Dams.

It is understood Albon had originally expected to compete in Formula E following his F2 commitments this year, given the financial budgets required simply to make it on to the F1 grid – but in the end, his performances opened the door to a huge opportunity.

Alexander Albon signs his F1 2019 contract with Toro Rosso inside Norwich, alongside Full Contact's Dan Chapman (left).Alexander Albon signs his F1 2019 contract with Toro Rosso inside Norwich, alongside Full Contact's Dan Chapman (left).

Head of Leathes Prior’s sports management division Full Contact in Norwich, Dan Chapman, was the man who helped secure the motorsport coup.

MORE: Listen to Norfolk’s very own F1 podcast – The NR F1 Podcast

“It goes without saying this is a phenomenal achievement from Alex,” said Chapman. “There are only 20 F1 drivers in any one season, so to arrive at this level is the preserve of the very select few.

“F1 is not only the pinnacle of motorsport but one of the most watched sports in the world. When Alex started go-karting in 2005 at the age of eight, he could not have realistically dreamed that he would one day be considered to have F1-level driving ability, let alone get to actually race in the series.

“So to have played a part in helping this dream come true is an incredibly proud moment.”

Scuderia Toro Rosso have proven a fertile breeding ground for young F1 stars with Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen all having passed through the Italian team on their way to the top.

Albon takes a seat left by Pierre Gasly, after his promotion to Red Bull alongside Verstappen – widely held up as a world champion of the future. Albon’s promotion has also ended Brendon Hartley’s brief stay in F1.

“It is so surreal,” admitted Albon. “I can honestly say it has always been my dream to become an F1 driver. There will be a lot to learn but I am beyond excited and cannot wait to get started in my new Toro Rosso.

“I owe a massive thank you to my strong support network, to all my sponsors and family, and more recently thanks for all the help from Dan Chapman. So many people have worked very hard at different stages of my career and played a massive part in me getting to F1.”

Albon is a former Red Bull development driver and notably finished second in the GP3 championship – two tiers below F1 – back in 2016 to Charles Leclerc; the Monegasque star will race for Ferrari alongside Vettel in 2019.

Although born in London, Albon races under the Thailand flag – meaning he will be the first Thai driver on the F1 grid since Prince Birabongse in the early 1950s.

Toro Rosso Honda team principal Franz Tost added: “Alexander had an impressive F2 season and the way he is able to overtake many of his rivals in the races shows he is ready and matured to race in F1.

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

F1 in 2019 will include 21 races, with winter testing due to begin in Barcelona come February.

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