Albon emerges as favourite for Hartley's Toro Rosso seat

Alexander Albon has emerged as favourite to replace Brendon Hartley and partner Daniil Kvyat at Scuderia Toro Rosso in Formula 1 in 2019.

Albon emerges as favourite for Hartley's Toro Rosso seat

However, the Anglo-Thai racer first has to get out of his existing deal to contest the 2018-19 Formula E season with Nissan.

It’s understood that Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko is negotiating with Nissan for the release of the 22-year-old, and that it will become clear in the next few days whether he has been successful.

Nissan is understood to be extremely frustrated with potentially losing a driver to whom it had made an early commitment, and it remains to be seen how the discussions will unfold.

Albon was scheduled to test for Nissan in Valencia this week, alongside teammate Sebastian Buemi, but he did not appear on track on Tuesday.

Albon made the decision to take up the Formula E route around the time of the Hungarian GP when it appeared that no F1 opportunities would be forthcoming. He thus signed a multi-year deal with Nissan, whose Formula E team is run by DAMS - the squad for which he has won four F2 races in 2018.

However, subsequent movements in the driver market such as Daniel Ricciardo’s decision to join Renault – which led to Pierre Gasly’s promotion from Toro Rosso to Red Bull Racing – left the Faenza team short of options.

Albon was backed by Red Bull in karting and Formula Renault, but was dropped after 2012. However, since then the Anglo-Thai racer - who finished runner-up to Charles Leclerc in GP3 in 2016 - has been rehabilitated in the eyes of Marko.

If talks are successful and the move to F1 is completed, Albon will join fellow F2 frontrunners George Russell and Lando Norris in stepping straight into F1 race seats, while Hartley - who was brought back into the Red Bull fold midway through 2017 - will be left without a drive.

Brendon Hartley, Scuderia Toro Rosso STR13

Brendon Hartley, Scuderia Toro Rosso STR13

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Sutton Images

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