BRITISH born racer Alexander Albon has been signed up by the Toro Rosso F1 team for next season.
The 22-year-old was born in London and the son of Nigel Albon, who raced in British Touring cars and the Porsche Carrera Cup.
However, Albon’s mum is from Thailand and he chose to race under the Thai flag and will partner Daniil Kvyat in the Red Bull B-team in 2019.
Albon was third in the Formula Two championship behind Williams new boy George Russell and Lando Norris, who is joining McLaren next year.
He said: “It’s such an amazing feeling to know that I’m in Formula One next year.
“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 One 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 One.
“To be given this opportunity is just incredible.”
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Franz Tost, Toro Rosso Team Principal, added: “Alexander had an impressive Formula 2 season in 2018. 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.
“Scuederia Toro Rosso is very much looking forward to 2019, as with Daniil and Alex we have two young, very strong and competitive drivers.”
Verstappen has finished the season on a high and managed to beat Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas into fourth place in the final standings.
The Dutch ace continues to win over admirers with his all-out driving style and Hamilton and Vettel expect him to join their tussle for the championship.
Hamilton said: “Max has been driving very well throughout the year and has shown his consistency and has been up here many, many times with us.
“So if his team does the job and delivers a platform with which he can compete even closer with us, then of course he’ll be in the fight.”
Vettel spent eight years as part of Red Bull’s driver programme and feels the Milton Keynes based team can also give Verstappen a car capable of winning a world title.
He added: “I don’t think Max needs any advice. He’s got all the ingredients. I think there’s a couple of guys out there who have these qualities and Max is certainly one of them.
“I also remember from my time, it’s important to have a competitive package throughout the season and Red Bull are certainly very, very strong.
“They put more performance to their car than any other team across the year, so obviously that allowed them to be very competitive.”
Meanwhile, Vettel admits he needs some time off after blowing his own chances of winning a fifth world title this year.
The Ferrari man saw his season implode as Hamilton went into cruise control and dominated with 11 wins in 21 races.
Vettel said: “After this year, to be very honest, I need to turn everything off. I need some time for myself.
“It has been a quite difficult and exhausting year for me. I definitely need a bit of a gap from F1.
“I’m pretty sure, based on the last winters, that very soon, I’m very, very hungry again for the next race.”