Alex Albon to make F1 return with Williams
Another day, another driver announcement in Formula One. Alasdair Russell reports on all the details as Alex Albon returns to Formula 1 with Williams.
The Williams team have announced that their driver line-up for next season will be Nicholas Latifi and Alex Albon. Latifi will enter his third season with the Grove-based team – Albon, meanwhile, will return to F1 after a year racing in DTM and being Red Bull’s test and reserve driver as a result of being dropped as Max Verstappen’s teammate in favour of Sergio Pérez.
Albon said of the move, “I am really excited and looking forward to returning to a Formula 1 race seat in 2022. When you take a year out of F1, it’s never certain you will make a return, so I’m extremely thankful to Red Bull and Williams for believing in me and helping me on my journey back to the grid.”
He takes the seat that has been vacated by George Russell after his move to Mercedes. At the Dutch Grand Prix, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner made several comments suggesting that Mercedes were attempting to block the move of the Red Bull junior to a Mercedes powered team. There was even suggestion from Mercedes boss Toto Wolff in some parts of the media that Red Bull would have to release Albon for the move to happen. With those comments in mind, this is a move that has been wrapped up and announced rather quickly considering all the politics involved.
Red Bull are certainly keen to have Albon back on the grid, with Horner commenting, “For his career, it was important not to spend another season out of an F1 race seat. With his place on the grid next year secured, we are delighted to see him realise this opportunity and we will be following his progress closely.”
It does seem that Red Bull have released Albon from their stable at least partially; a comment made to Autosport by a Red Bull representative on the matter says that the plan for Albon is “to become a Williams driver in 2022 but [Red Bull] retain a relationship with him that includes future options”.
That leaves just one seat left to be confirmed ahead of the 2022 season, with Alfa Romeo yet to announce the driver that will partner Valtteri Bottas, who signed earlier this week.
The only remaining seat on the grid with any question mark over it now is who will get the second seat at Alfa Romeo alongside Valtteri Bottas.