Demoted Red Bull driver Alex Albon has expressed his “hurt” at losing his Formula 1 race seat, but has vowed to focus on a return to the grid in 2022.
Red Bull announced on Friday that Albon had been replaced in its top squad by Sergio Perez, who will partner Max Verstappen in 2021. Albon will be the team’s reserve driver.
It is the first time since the team signed Mark Webbed in 2007 and since he left in 2013 that the Red Bull team will not be exclusively populated by products of its junior project.
Albon was promoted to the top team from Toro Rosso at Spa to replace Pierre Gasly in 2019, but struggled to impress after maintaining the seat this season.
“I can’t lie guys, it hurts,” Albon wrote in an Instagram post on Sunday, his first public reaction to the news of his demotion.
“I gave it everything out there, but it wasn’t quite enough.
“I want to say a huge thank you to all of you that supported me throughout this year, especially my Thai fans.
“With all the different opinions out there, I always had you guys to push me through it.”
“I’m not giving up, I’ve poured my life into this and I won’t let it stop here.
“I have more to give and my focus is getting back for 2022 and to wave the Thai flag again!”
Red Bull insisted that Albon “remains an important member of the team” in his test and reserve driver role.
He will be key a “key focus on 2022 development, simulator work and tyre testing”, aiding Red Bull in its preparation for the new technical rules in 2022
His best chance of a return in 2022 would appear to be back at AlphaTauri, which he drove for in the first half of 2019 in its Toro Rosso guise, should either of Pierre Gasly or its new signing Yuki Tsunoda move on.