Red Bull have dropped Pierre Gasly and appointed Alex Albon as Max Verstappen’s new team-mate.
The change will take place with immediate effect, starting at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Gasly was appointed Verstappen’s team-mate at the start of the season following Daniel Ricciardo’s departure to Renault.
But the highly-regarded youngster has struggled to keep pace with Verstappen, and his demotion, while ruthless, had been widely predicted.
Gasly will return to Toro Rosso and partner Daniil Kvyat.
Rookie Albon only began his F1 career in March.
In a statement, Red Bull said: ‘The team will use the next nine races to evaluate Alex’s performance in order to make an informed decision as to who will drive alongside Max in 2020.’
The London-born Thai driver has consistently impressed this season, although it is Kvyat, himself a former Red Bull driver, who has scored the majority of Toro Rosso’s points to date.
Why time ran out for Gasly
Gasly’s form and future had become a frequent topic of conversation and speculation through the summer.
Although Christian Horner told reporters after the Hungarian GP “our intention is to leave him in the car until the end of the year”, the Red Bull boss added that “we desperately need to see him realising more of the potential of the car.”
Gasly’s struggles were particularly acute in Budapest. While Verstappen challenged from victory after taking pole position, Gasly only qualified sixth, 0.8s adrift of Verstappen, and then finished behind McLaren’s Carlos Sainz in the race.
Gasly’s half-season haul of 63 points compares to 181 for Verstappen and was a substantial handicap in Red Bull’s battle with Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship.
Full statement from Red Bull
“Aston Martin Red Bull Racing will race with a new driver line-up from the Belgian Grand Prix onwards.
“Alexander Albon is being promoted to Aston Martin Red Bull Racing to drive alongside Max Verstappen, while Pierre Gasly will return to the Red Bull sister team, Scuderia Toro Rosso.
“Red Bull are in the unique position of having four talented Formula One drivers under contract who can be rotated between Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso. The team will use the next nine races to evaluate Alex’s performance in order to make an informed decision as to who will drive alongside Max in 2020.
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