After an impressive start to his maiden season with Toro Rosso, Alex Albon was promoted to the Red Bull team for the second half of the year. Here are all the facts and statistics from Albon’s 2019 season!
What a 12 months for Alex Albon. The Thai-British driver has gone from anticipating a season in Formula E to driving for a championship-winning F1 team. He had never driven a Formula 1 car at the start of 2019, but ends the year eighth in the Drivers’ Championship.
Albon impressed from the off in 2019, after out-qualifying Toro Rosso team-mate Daniil Kvyat in their first race together at the team he went on to pick up points for the first time at the following round in Bahrain. The third race in China reminded everyone that he was still a rookie, with a crash in Free Practice 3 which left him unable to compete in qualifying. Nevertheless, he fought back in the race to secure points for a second consecutive outing. Albon would go on to score three more top ten finishes over the first half of the season, with a best of sixth in the wet German Grand Prix.
His consistency, and Pierre Gasly’s lack of performance at the senior team, saw the pair switch places for the second half of the year, with Albon promoted to Red Bull after partaking in only twelve Grands Prix. He started near the back on debut in Belgium due to engine penalties, but performed another comeback drive and recorded a new career high of fifth. After two sixth places in Italy and Singapore, Albon crashed in qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix, but made up for it with another fine drive to finish fifth. His best result of the season followed at Suzuka, where he finished fourth. He could have bettered that with a podium finish in Brazil, but a late race nudge from Lewis Hamilton saw him finish outside of the points.
Albon’s consistency in his rookie season has been promising, with Brazil being the only time in the last eleven races. His only non-finish of the season came back at the Canadian Grand Prix, when he was caught up in a first lap commotion. Only Hamilton completed more racing laps than Alex Albon in 2019. It is consistency which Red Bull are seeking in their second seat, and if Albon can continue with the form he’s shown in his rookie year, his seat is likely to be secure for 2020 and beyond.
*Includes Albon’s stints at both Toro Rosso and Red Bull
A STATISTIC FROM EVERY GRAND PRIX
Australia: Alex Albon was one of the three drivers making their F1 debut at the 2019 Australian Grand Prix. All three debutants out-qualified their team-mates. Albon qualified 0.138 seconds faster than Daniil Kvyat, despite his lack of preparation for the season and having never raced at Albert Park ahead of the race weekend.
Bahrain: Alex Albon became the 341st driver to score points in Formula 1 at the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix. He became the first Thai driver to score a point since Prince Bira finished fourth at the 1954 French Grand Prix.
China: After crashing in Free Practice 3 for the 2019 Chinese Grand Prix, Alex Albon became the fourth driver to start from the pit-lane at the Shanghai International Circuit. He followed Karun Chandhok in 2010, Jean-Eric Vergne in 2012 and Mark Webber in 2013. After finishing tenth, he was the first driver to have scored after a pit-lane start in Shanghai.
Azerbaijan: After not taking part in qualifying in China, Alex Albon was beaten by his team-mate in qualifying on pace alone for the first time in his career at the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Spain: For a second consecutive race, Alex Albon finished the 2019 Spanish Grand Prix in the same position as where he started it from. Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly were the only other drivers who had finished where they started in two races in the 2019 season up to that point.
Monaco: Alex Albon recorded his first Q3 appearance at the 2019 Monaco Grand Prix. In doing so, he became the 59th driver to reach the final part of qualifying since the current system was introduced in 2006.
Canada: Alex Albon recorded the first DNF of his career at the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix, making this the first F1 race from which a Thai driver has retired since Prince Bira failed to finish the 1954 German Grand Prix.
France: Alex Albon finished fifteenth in the 2019 French Grand Prix. It was the first time a Toro Rosso driver has finished in that position since Brendon Hartley did so at the 2018 Australian Grand Prix.
Austria: Alex Albon finished fifteenth in the Austrian Grand Prix. It was the second consecutive race in which he’s finished fifteenth, and he had held fifteenth place in the championship after all of the previous three races. It was the 31st time that a driver has recorded two consecutive fifteenth place finishes.
Britain: With ninth on the grid, Alex Albon recorded the best qualifying position of his career up to that point at the 2019 British Grand Prix, reaching Q3 for a second time.
Germany: The driver of car 23 recorded Toro Rosso’s 23rd top six finish in Formula 1 with his sixth place at the 2019 German Grand Prix. It marked Albon’s first top six result.
Hungary: The 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix was Alex Albon’s last appearance with Toro Rosso. With 234 points left up for grabs in 2019 at that point, only the top fifteen in the Drivers’ Championship were still eligible to win the 2019 title. For Albon to have won the World Championship he would have needed to win every remaining race and score the fastest lap at every round without Lewis Hamilton scoring any more points.
Belgium: Despite Max Verstappen retiring from the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix, Red Bull maintained their record of one car finishing in the top five since their last double DNF at the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. That was thanks to Alex Albon recording a career-best fifth place finish on his debut outing with the team. The only other time a Thai driver has finished in fifth place was at the 1950 Monaco Grand Prix, when Prince Bira finished fifth for Maserati.
Italy: The 2019 Italian Grand Prix is the only time so far that Alex Albon has out-qualified Max Verstappen during their time as team-mates – but that was thanks to Verstappen not setting a time in the first part of qualifying.
Singapore: Qualifying in sixth on his first appearance at the Marina Bay Circuit, Alex Albon, along with Lando Norris, joined a small group of drivers with a 100% Q3 appearance rate at the Singapore Grand Prix. Also in the club are Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Max Verstappen and Michael Schumacher.
Russia: After crashing out in Q1 for the 2019 Russian Grand Prix, Alex Albon took the unwanted honour of becoming the first Red Bull driver to have been eliminated in the first part of qualifying at the Sochi Autodrom. Albon started from the pit-lane as a result of crashing, becoming the first driver to start a race at the track from the pits. In 2018, Max Verstappen gained 14 positions from nineteenth to fifth in the Russian Grand Prix. This year, Alex Albon gained fifteen positions from the pit lane to fifth.
Japan: Alex Albon recorded a career-best fourth place at the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix, marking the first time that a Honda-powered car has scored at Suzuka since Jenson Button finished fourth in 2006. Albon equalled the best result for a Thai driver in Formula 1; Prince Bira finished fourth in both the 1950 Swiss Grand Prix and the 1954 French Grand Prix. As his team-mate lost his 100% points scoring record at Suzuka, Albon gained that record, becoming the only driver in F1 history to have scored points on every appearance at Suzuka.
Mexico: The 2019 Mexico Grand Prix saw Alex Albon record the best qualifying result of his rookie season with the fifth fastest time.
USA: Despite pitting after sustaining damage on the first lap of the 2019 United States Grand Prix, Alex Albon finished fifth, making this the first United States Grand Prix which both Red Bull drivers have finished since 2014.
Brazil: Alex Albon looked set to record his first podium finish at the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix, but was spun following a collision with Lewis Hamilton. He eventually finished fourteenth – the first time he had finished fourteenth since the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. It also ended a streak of nine consecutive points-scoring races. It is his only race at Red Bull in which he has failed to score so far.
Abu Dhabi: At the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Alex Albon recorded consecutive top five starts for the first time in his career. For a second race in a row, he qualified sixth but moved up to fifth on the final grid.
After graduating in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky Haldenby, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. Now in its sixth season, the blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics. Nicky also writes at F1Destinations and Motorsport Guides. In 2017 and 2018, he wrote for Badger GP. Nicky is also the host of the F1 Rewind Podcast and can be heard as the resident stats man on the 2 Soft Compounds Podcast.