Red Bull have announced that Frenchman Pierre Gasly will replace Daniel Ricciardo next season.
Ricciardo, 28, stunned Red Bull by revealing earlier this month that he will end his stay with the team to join Renault in 2019.
Gasly is in only his first full season in Formula One, but, after quietly impressing for Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso, he will now drive alongside Max Verstappen for the senior outfit next term.
Gasly, 22, was the obvious choice to take over from Ricciardo, with Carlos Sainz, currently on loan to Renault from Red Bull, moving to McLaren in 2019.
“Since Pierre first stepped into a Formula One seat with Toro Rosso less than a year ago he has proved the undoubted talent that Red Bull has nurtured since his early career,” Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, said.
“His stellar performances this year at the Honda-powered team, in only his first full season in Formula One, have only enhanced his reputation as one of the most exciting young drivers in motorsport and we look forward to Pierre bringing his speed, skill and attitude to the team in 2019.”
Gasly finished fourth in the second race of the season in Bahrain and has consistently out-performed his team-mate Brendon Hartley. He is 13th in the drivers’ standings, 24 points ahead of his New Zealand team-mate.
“To be awarded a drive at Red Bull Racing from 2019 is a dream come true for me,” Gasly added. “I’m so excited to be joining this top team.
“It has been my goal to race for this team since I joined the Red Bull Junior Driver Programme in 2013 and this incredible opportunity is another step forward in my ambition to win grands prix and compete for world championships.
“Red Bull has always looked to fight for championships or victories and that’s what I want.
“As hugely exciting a moment as this is, I am fully aware of the challenge this special opportunity offers me and the expectations that faces any driver at Red Bull Racing.
“I’m looking forward to rewarding the faith that [Red Bull owner] Dietrich Mateshitz, Christian Horner and [Red Bull motorsport advisor] Dr Helmut Marko have placed in me.”