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Alexander Albon is replacing Pierre Gasly at Red Bull

Alexander Albon is replacing Pierre Gasly at Red Bull

It's the bombshell of the summer: Red Bull have taken the shock decision to drop Pierre Gasly and replace him with their Toro Rosso driver Alex Albon.

The team statement 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".

"Everyone at the team looks forward to welcoming Alex and supporting him during the next phase of his F1 career".

Mr Albon, who grew up in Bures near Sudbury and went to Ipswich School, will be joining Red Bull Racing from the next race in Belgium.

Gasly, by contrast, has spent 2019 struggling to keep pace with Verstappen.

Recently, Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost played down Albon's chances of stepping up to Red Bull, arguing that the 23-year-old needed more experience.

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Albon - who was signed up to the Red Bull Junior Team in 2012 - has accrued 16 points in his maiden season in the championship with a best-placed sixth in the German Grand Prix.

Red Bull, which had claimed Gasly's seat was secure until the end of the season, will now promote Albon alongside Verstappen, with the Anglo-Thai racer having surpassed expectations in his own debut campaign with Toro Rosso in 2019.

Mr Albon now sits 15th in the world championship having scored 16 points. He has just 63 points compared to Verstappen's 181 and failed to make the podium this season.

But another subdued performance by Gasly in Hungary - where the 23-year-old was lapped by Verstappen - likely left Marko convinced that a change was in order.

Of the other five Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Scuderia Ferrari and Red Bull Racing drivers, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc is the closest to Gasly in the standings.

"But in terms of having those two in one team, I haven't heard from Lewis either that he wants to join next year".