Motorsport: Brendon Hartley dumped by Toro Rosso for 2019 Formula One season

Brendon Hartley.
Brendon Hartley. Photo credit: Getty

New Zealand Formula One driver Brendon Hartley has been sacked by Toro Rosso despite having a year to run on his contract.

The Kiwi has been replaced by 22-year-old British/Thai drover Alexander Albon who will team with Russian Daniel Kvyat in the Red Bull junior team for the 2019 season.

Albon is a long-time member of the Red Bull driver development programme having signed with the team in 2012, finishing third in the 2018 Formula 2 Championship.

2019 will mark only the second time a Thai driver has competed in the mecca of motorsport – following Prince Birabongse's flirtation with the sport in the 1950s.

Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost says Albon's impressive showing in the feeder series caught their attention.

"He won four races and finished the Championship in third," he notes.

"The way he is able to overtake many of his rivals in the races shows that he has matured to race in Formula 1.

"Scuderia Toro Rosso is very much looking forward to 2019, as with Daniil and Alex we have two young, very strong and competitive drivers."

Hartley signed a two-year deal with the team at the end of last year after ironically replacing Kvyat who was axed after a run of poor performances ahead of the 2018 United States Grand Prix.

The 29-year-old had a few standout drives during the season including four point scoring efforts but ultimately a number of incidents, some of which he was an innocent victim, have cost him the seat.

BBC reported earlier this year that Hartley had performance-based conditions written into his contract with the Italian team able to re-evaluate the two-year deal if those terms weren't met.

Hartley has yet to comment on his future.

2019 Formula 1 driver lineup:

MERCEDES: Lewis Hamilton (Great Britain), Valtteri Bottas (Finland)

FERRARI: Sebastian Vettel (Germany), Charles Leclerc (Monaco)

RED BULL: Max Verstappen (Netherlands),Pierre Gasly (France)

RENAULT: Nico Hulkenberg (Germany), Daniel Ricciardo (Australia)

HAAS: Kevin Magnussen (Denmark), Romain Grosjean (France)

MCLAREN: Carlos Sainz (Spain), Lando Norris (Britain)

FORCE INDIA: Sergio Perez (Mexico), [TBC] - likely Lance Stroll (Canada)

SAUBER: Kimi Raikkonen (Finland), Antonio Giovinazzi (Italy)

TORO ROSSO: Daniil Kvyat (Russia),Alexander Albon (Thailand)

WILLIAMS: George Russell (Britain), Robert Kubica (Poland)