Toro Rosso’s reputation as a finishing school for the Red Bull Junior Team has taken a bit of a beating lately with its need to recycle drivers that the brand has previously dropped…
…like Brendon Hartley, who enjoyed a full season with the team last year, despite being cut from the Red Bull programme in 2010.
…and Daniil Kvyat, who rejoins the Italian squad this season for the third time since 2014; the Russian desperate to rediscover the raw speed that catapulted him to F1 in the first place.
Alongside Kvyat this year: yet another Red Bull refugee, Alexander Albon – the Anglo-Thai racer last under the brand’s wing in 2012…
… when he was just 16, though even by that time he’d been following the sport for more than a decade.
SOUNDBITE (English) ALEXANDER ALBON,
F1 DRIVER, TORO ROSSO:
“My idol when I was growing up was Michael Schumacher. I think my first word was Ferrari, when I was young – and I remember always watching the F1 when I was maybe three or four. And I’d get really upset if Schumacher didn’t win.”
Since then, Albon raced in Formula Renault 2.0 and European F3, moving up to GP3 in 2016, when he won four races. He took another step in 2017, to Formula 2, finishing third last year with four wins.
…just seven points behind now McLaren rookie Lando Norris.
But while Albon and Kvyat are Red Bull recycled, their match-up for 2019 is no less exciting – with the Russian the pace benchmark… desperate to revive his F1 career.
And Albon, who will become the first Thai driver to start an F1 Grand Prix since Prince Bira in 1954, the young pretender – eager to make his mark…
And he knows he only has one chance for a first impression.
“I won't have many days in the car before Melbourne, so it will be very important to be as prepared as possible and take each race as it comes,” Albon said.
With Toro Rosso forging a closer collaboration with sister team Red Bull Racing, based on its shared works power unit partnership with Honda, it could just be a fantastic year of second chances at Faenza.