Albon’s return to Formula 1 with Williams confirmed as Latifi stays

2022 F1 season

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Alexander Albon will return to Formula 1 with Williams next year, the team has confirmed.

The 25-year-old will take the place vacated by George Russell, whose move to Mercedes was announced yesterday.

Williams has also announced Nicholas Latifi will remain at the team for a third season next year.

Albon said he was relieved to be making a swift return to Formula 1 after finding himself without a race seat this year.

“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 said. “It’s also been great to see all the progress Williams have been making as a team this year and I look forward to helping them continue that journey in 2022.”

Willams CEO Jost Capito described Albon as “one of the most exciting young talents in motorsport, yet comes with a large amount of F1 experience from his time at Red Bull.”

Albon made his Formula 1 debut with Toro Rosso in 2019, but was promoted to Red Bull at mid-season. He lost his place in their race squad following a disappointing 2020 campaign, but was retained as a reserve driver, and Red Bull have been eager to place him at a team for the upcoming season.

“His multiple podium finishes highlight his speed as a driver, and we know he will immediately feel at home with the team at Grove,” Capito added.

Red Bull confirmed it has released Albon from his contract in order for him to join the Mercedes customer team, but retains an option on his services for the future.

Albon will be reunited with Latifi, who was previously his team mate at DAMS during the 2018 Formula 2 season.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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82 comments on “Albon’s return to Formula 1 with Williams confirmed as Latifi stays”

  1. So is he still with Red Bull or was he free from his contract?

    1. Red Bull on Facebook posted “welcome back to the grid”, so I guess he’s still with them

    2. Unlike the Ocon move where Renault had first call on him, it seems according to some that RB wanted a pure loan deal where they had first call on Albon, etc. So I imagine its half way between that and and what Toto wanted. Particularly given both Horner and Toto have softened their stance recently.

      1. As I thought, Just heard ‘released from contract’, but future options at RB.

    3. It says Red Bull have released him from his contract, but, retain an option to use him again later.

    4. He will no longer be part of the intense Red Bull family, nor will he be RBs thrid driver or driving their simulator and debriefing with engineers.

      But understandably (since they have invested in him), Red Bull will have an option on getting him if they need a driver for their teams in the future, and probably a first call if/when Albon seperates from Williams as well.

      I think it is also quite possible that Red Bull (maybe even through the AT brand) did chip in to get Albon into this seat, since the Thai co-owners would like to see him on the grid.

      1. @bascb Invested, not really, as they ousted him from their program in 2012 and offered a drive in late-2018 only because of driver shortage at the time. He’ll be a Williams driver, so Williams, of course, can keep him/continue with him if they want since they aren’t a Red Bull-controlled team. A return is possible, but neither a must nor a given.

        1. From what Red Bull has mentioned (or rather answered in questions from journalists) they almost certainly have some form of option on him @jerejj

          That they dropped him in 2012 already points to them having invested in Albon in the past, doesnt it. Otherwise there wouldn’t be anything to DROP him from.

          Let’s see whether he will have any Red Bull and/or AT logos on his overalls etc next year, I wouldn’t be surprised. Off course the connection with Albon being part Thai and Red Bull’s co owners being from there too also has some influence on their ties.

          1. @bascb Yes, before the ousting, although they ousted him for performance-related reasons, like others such as Hartley, who also eventually got an F1 chance through driver shortage.
            I doubt he’ll have those logos on helmet and overalls, but we’ll find out when pre-season testing begins or in pre-testing shakedown/photoshoots.

  2. But who won the power play between Merc and RB?

    1. @johnrkh nobody won and F1 lost.

      1. Albon won and his fans.
        Williams won.
        F1 won, they are still making money.
        We the viewers don’t matter
        Horner and Marko won because their conscience wont prick so much.
        Toto Wolff is still thinking about a lenghthy explanation

        Reply moderated
      2. @hahostolze it is indeed the case that there are those gloating over a perceived victory against Mercedes that they are celebrating Red Bull being able to manipulate other teams into hiring their drivers instead – a loss for the sport, but apparently that negative development for the sport is considered OK.

    2. Expect a few PU issues for Willians next year! 😉

  3. I’m pleased with this. Amusing that his girlfriend gave this away a week ago, so not really surprising news. I hope he’ll be rejuvenated away from Red Bull and a better funded Williams makes a solid jump with the new rules.

    1. Well written @eurobrun. Albon feels like too much of a talent to be ditched after being called up last minute first into STR and then thrown into the deep at Red Bull, so it is good that we can see him develop himself and the team at Williams.

  4. Will be good to see what he can do at Williams, but maybe Latifi isn’t the best yard stick to judge him against. I would still expect Albon to out qualify/out race Latifi at almost every race, the same way GR has done. Maybe won’t do so as comprehensively though.

    1. That is exactly what Alex needs to do. Beat Latifi and hopefully he can still enjoy a good career in F1. Also beat Tsunoda in the standings if the Williams is a bit further up the order.

    2. Think latifi is decent, he’s not one who shouldn’t be in f1 skill wise, so should be a decent benchmark, and in any case albon was fine in a midfield car.

  5. Great news, he deserves another go at Formula 1 and I’m glad he’s getting a shot at Williams as they’re on the road back to solid midfield positions. I can understand keeping Latifi around for another year, he’s a solid performer and a bit of continuity is never bad when introducing a new driver and seeing how they work out.

    Reply moderated
  6. If Gio is retained by Alfa then this could be the first season in F1 history apart from 1950 where no driver on the grid is making their debut (if there’s no mid-season driver line up changes).

    1. Is that true?!
      If it is that is an amazing stat.

      1. I’ve got a spreadsheet and data all the way back to 1950. The trend over the years had been solidly downward for drivers debuting each year. Now it bounces around 1 to 3 per year. The last 4 years have been a new trend a little lower than 1998-2017 which was also low bouncing around the 5 mark on average though a couple years had just 2.

        This is a result of a number of things.

        1. Super licences has depleted the pool of available drivers, and depleted the resources of those who have to compete in series with super licence point allocation.
        2. In addition to this we rarely see new teams, and for the foreseeable future we won’t see any new teams. It’s always hard to measure this because you have to track whether a team is truly ‘new’ due to teams buying out other teams.
        3. Less drivers getting injured/killed
        4. Less one-off entries

        1. I thank you and congratulate you on your F1 nerdism. Great stats. 👍

    2. It’s been reported De Vries has signed an F1 contract for 2022, so I think we’ll get at least 1 newcomer next year (unless of course it’s a reserve driver contract, but I doubt it).

      1. Signed with Alfa because that’s the only seat left, unless Schumacher makes the surprise jump to Alfa and he’s in at Haas?

    3. Stroll’s seat also has to be confirmed.
      But interestingly a Canadian in a British sponsored car seems to be more secure that an Italian in an Italian sponsored car.

      1. He owns the team, it’s highly doubtful he’s going anywhere.

      2. @jff He’s guaranteed anyway.

    4. Apart from 1950? They all were making the F1 debut then, of course!

      1. I literally wrote “apart from 1950” :)

  7. On the balance, Albon just about deserves an F1 seat next year. There is an insane amount of talent floating around without a seat, and with Latifi and Mazepin getting seats, it’s a shame. Taking into account the rumour today that Guanyu Zhou is going to get the Alfa Romeo seat on account of paying 30m+, well, I don’t think there has ever been more talent and still at least three undeserving seatholders.

    1. Overall on Sundays Latiffi’s performance was not that far below Russel’s.
      If Russel proves to be competitive against Hamilton, then Latiffi IMO can consider him at Bottas’ level. Not super exciting, but not a ‘lost seat’ either.

      1. Absolutely, I don’t think latifi would compete with bottas, but that still makes him worthy of f1, unlike mazepin.

    2. @hahostolze De Vries has reportedly signed a contract, though (reference in yesterday’s round-up), so slightly contradictive, but we shall wait and find out.

      1. Indeed – it looks as though it has all been very carefully scheduled to allow one big reveal per day this week.

    3. Bottas only had a seat at merc because Toto owned the company that managed Bottas, that is JUST AS BAD as mazepin and latifi

      yet no one complains about that…

      1. That would be the Bottas who finished on the podiums 9 times and 4th, 5th and 8th in the WDC in a Williams before joining Mercedes? Yea, definitely in the Mazepin/Latifi bracket.

      2. Nonsense. Bottas is a great driver, as he proved at Williams and Mercedes. He isn’t on the same level as Hamilton, but really not many are.

  8. As reported by Keith and Deiter back on 8/31. Funny that many were still saying Bottas would stay at Merc at that time. Maybe it’s time to actually put some credibility into the articles that are published here?

    1. Keith and Deiter didn’t say that, I think you must have been following a different website. it’s not their job to filter out comments that are not credible

  9. And the last seat at Alfa Romeo will be for?
    De Vries?
    Zhou?
    Tonio?

      1. Actually, I wish they’d bring Hulkenberg into the seat.

  10. By 31/08 they had published that Bottas would go to Alfa and Albon to Williams

    1. Meant is a reply to the comment 2 above mine

  11. Hearing Zhou at Alfa may be confirmed soon. Now I want Piastri to blow away the rest of the field in the second half of the F2 season, flip the bird at Alpine and go off to Indycar.

    1. @wsrgo De Vries reportedly signed a contract on Monday, but we shall wait and find out.

  12. The above has been updated with information from Red Bull on Albon’s contract status.

  13. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    8th September 2021, 13:52

    Red Bull confirmed it has released Albon from his contract in order for him to join the Mercedes customer team, but retains an option on his services for the future

    It’s a bit of a fake-nose isn’t it? I get that Mercedes does not want ANY links between a driver who is backed by a different top-team (and engine-maker from next year onwards), so from that point of view it makes sense that Mercedes wanted Red Bull to release Albon. But like, what happens if Albon gets called back to Red Bull later down the line: he cannot forget what he has learned right?

    1. no but at least it’s not guaranteed to happen

  14. Excellent. So happy to see him back. Really likeable young guy who deserves the chance. Let’s hope Williams continue their upward momentum with the new cars.

    1. Also pleased to read about Albon’s return. I feel this will be a great opportunity for him, similar to Gasly where he can develop away from the stress and strain of Red Bull.

      I have a hunch that Räikkönen’s tweet earlier this week, forced these announcements to be made earlier than preferred.

  15. I like the guy but I can’t see Mercedes and Lewis being happy about that. He’s a huge risk factor on track for him… even with blue flags. There’s the possibility of a collision and a Kafkian penalty over nothing.

    1. @freelittlebirds Not sure what you mean. You’re saying LH can’t help hitting him any time they’re in close proximity to each other?

    2. On the other hand, @freelittlebirds, if Hamilton finds himself alongside Albon again, he’ll most likely be lapping him, so there’ll really be no need to shove him off the road at all.

      1. @red-andy @robbie

        This video is for you guys – you’ll enjoy it!

        1. That’s the shortest video I ever watched!

        2. Oops, here it goes – Lewis missed the apex again ;-)

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFmqFrWjR8Y

          1. @robbie I knew it’d be up your alley:-)

      2. @red-andy Then not much will have changed. Wasn’t Lewis lapping Albon when he was driving the Red Bull?

        Sorry, I just had to:-)

  16. What does the word ‘option’ exactly mean in this context?
    He’ll be 100% Williams driver, after all.
    On a side note, I still wish De Vries or Bottas joined Williams instead.

    1. It probably means they have first refusal over Albon’s services once his is out of contract at Williams, @jerejj.

    2. @jerejj I assume option means that when AA is done with Williams or they are done with him, then RBR has the right of first refusal (or acceptance) of his services.

    3. In addition to what others have said, it could also mean Red Bull have a deal that they can buy him out of his contract for a set amount (perhaps even for nothing) if they choose and he’d then leave Williams and re-join Red Bull.

    4. If its anything like some of the career contracts used by a certain operator in MotoGP it will be having a veto on him joining a rival team for example.
      Maybe that’s why Gasly is wasting away his career in a B team?

      1. Gasly got his opportunity at an A team and it didn’t pan out that well.
        Could really say the same about Bottas tbh, people were hailing him as better than Rosberg before the Mercedes move.

  17. More interesting fact is that Latifi is staying, and so are Stroll and Mazepin (although I don’t rate them all equally, far from it). There’s no more than maybe 6 “safe” drivers in the entire F1, half of them are the best, half the worst drivers by far. One thing is certain, Stoll and Mazepin have less to worry about their future in the sport than Verstappen and Hamilton. Guys like Albon have to pray for a miracle each year.

    1. Albon’s got a tough job on his hands. He’ll be expected to do as good a job as Russell has been doing and even if he manages that, he’s going to have to find a way to look better than Gasly if he wants the 2nd Red Bull seat. I imagine Perez will have 1 more year at Red Bull and if he doesn’t improve fairly dramatically from this season, one of those 2 will be his replacement. That gives Albon 1 year to convince Red Bull he’s better than Gasly which won’t be easy.

      1. True and, strange as it is, they won’t be so young next year by the modern F1 standards. There’s always a new wave coming and the number of seats remains (now only) 20 at best. Albon never seemed better than Gasly to me, but he at least tried a few overtakes, while Gasly was passive despite his age and need to prove himself. I think Gasly improved quite a bit over the past two years, Albon lost a season so he’ll have a tough job to do. But, maybe most importantly, with the new cars F1 will almost become a different sport. Totally different handling will require different style of driving, we may see a shift in drivers’ performance. This happens when they change the teams, let alone the entire car design.

        1. Yeah it’s weird I don’t see people bringing this up as much here. Massively different cars the likes of which no current driver has driven besides in simulations. Who knows how that might upset the order. Also hasn’t Albon been at the forefront of running 2022 simulations??

  18. So why did they get rid of him in the first place? Why the change of heart?

    1. I’d have replaced Tsunoda with Albon and avoided this whole transfer of money and release from his contract nonsense

  19. Just going to throw this out there: Stoffel Vandoorne deserves a seat in F1. He’s a GP2 champion. Would love to see Hulkenberg back too.

    Reply moderated
    1. he did get a seat at F1

  20. For the record, Albon and Latifi were DAMS teammates in 2018 F2, with Alex taking the upper hand in qualy (10-2) and points (212-91). More telling was that he was the only one close to Lando and George that year. And I think the qualifying performances of Perez this year just highlight how hard it is to go up against Max. I mean come on, there’s no way in my opinion that DeVries is more deserving. He drove in that F2 season also for the dominant Prema team and couldn’t beat any of the three of them. Alex deserves another shot for sure. The only other person I’d rather see in F1 is Calum Illot.

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