Williams chose Albon over “a couple of really good drivers” for 2022 seat

2022 F1 season

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Williams made an early start on choosing a replacement for George Russell as it was “obvious” he stood a realistic chance of moving to Mercedes.

The team’s CEO Jost Capito said that gave them plenty of time to settle on ex-Red Bull and Toro Rosso driver Alexander Albon as his replacement, having considered an array of alternatives.

“At an early stage we looked at, if it would happen, who would be the right driver to replace George,” he explained. “And there were quite a number of options. It’s difficult to name a number [of drivers] because the options came and went.

“So at the end there were quite a good number of options where you can choose between long experience, experience and youth or just youth and no experience in Formula 1. And it’s a difficult decision because there are quite a couple of really good drivers around who would all deserve a seat in Formula 1.”

Albon will return to a race seat after being moved into a reserve driver role following his tough campaign alongside Max Verstappen at Red Bull last year. Capito said the quality of Albon’s other performances persuaded them to take him up for next year.

“He’s done a great job,” said Capito. “Being the team mate of Max is something something very difficult, as much as difficult to be the team mate of Hamilton. And you see it in McLaren how difficult it is for Danny [Ricciardo] to come into a new car as well.

“So I think it’s very difficult to judge somebody just on one season. You have to see the whole career and what he has done. And there are always different circumstances. You can’t just judge in a single race results.

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“So when I look at the whole career of Alex, what he has done and how he works and his character and also the comments of people having worked with him, we came to the conclusion that he is that he’s the right guy for us for next year.”

Capito insisted the British team was not seeking a driver of the same nationality to replace George Russell. “Not at all,” he said.

“I think we are very international, we are very open, and we don’t choose anybody – if it’s in the factory or if it is in whatever position – based on the nationality or race or whatever. We choose the best person and we don’t pay any attention to the nationality.”

Williams never seriously considered opposing Russell’s move to the world champions, Capito added.

“The discussion about Mercedes and George was an ongoing process,” he said. “Of course we knew all year that we could lose him to Mercedes because that contract ran out and he’s done a brilliant job last year when he’s been in the Mercedes. So it was obvious that they would consider taking George and they had the right to do so.

“When it got more clear, we were very supportive of that as well. I’m very much in favour of supporting drivers even if it’s not the best for the team. You don’t benefit as a team if you have a driver who is not happy. If George could be in a Mercedes but had to stay at Williams, he wouldn’t be a happy driver and wouldn’t deliver what he can deliver.

“So this is why we support him with his talent and with his experience to be in the car that is the championship-winning car and the championship-winning team of the last how-many years.”

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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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56 comments on “Williams chose Albon over “a couple of really good drivers” for 2022 seat”

  1. Good choice, Albon is still relatively young and has experience in a few not running car. He is also very quick, not Verstappen quick but who is anyways?
    He will do well at Williams

    1. Agree with you, PMccarthy_is_a_legend.

      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.

    2. @pmccarthy_is_a_legend Agreed. I thought AA displayed some excellent race craft so I think he will be very exciting to watch in the new cars, as is the prospect of Williams advancing up the grid with any luck, exciting.

    3. Other options might have (even) more talent, but none has two recents years of hands-on experience in a pressure cooker environment. Especially, someone who many believe hasn’t topped out yet.

  2. So considering there is now no more a Mercedes protege in that Williams car, presumably the pricetag on that Mercedes engine must go up right? Is their budget up for the task of covering a larger bill?

    1. Possibly but that could be offset by the money albon is bringing in.

      1. Is there not a price limit that the teams can or do pay for Power Units.?
        Likely a fraction of the actual cost.

      2. @ppzzus He isn’t a pay driver. Quite a few people seem to mistake him as such, LOL.

        1. Not necessarily a check but sponsorship from companies that normally wouldn’t.

        2. @jerejj where exactly do you draw the line between a pay driver and a non pay driver though?

          In the case of Albon, we know Red Bull were actively considering paying Williams for that seat, given Horner stated Red Bull had looked at offering a “financial package” to secure a place. If Albon’s position at Williams is being partially financed by Red Bull, then what is the distinction between the two?

    2. @nmgn – …unless one believes the scenario that Williams goes Reggie PU to allow Freddie the 4th Merc PU team.

  3. Whole career, what he has done: With all due respect, he hasn’t really achieved anything in F1.
    Overall, good explanation and reasoning.

    1. Proven midfield driver, that’s his f1 curriculum I’d say.

    2. Okay @jerejj, whole career covers more than just F1 doesn’t it.
      For example, in 2018 he came 3rd in the Formula 2 Championship, behind George Russell and Lando Norris, but ahead of Nyck de Vries (and 6 places ahead of Nicolas Latifi)
      In 2016 he was runner up in GP3 to Charles Leclerc, but won more races than Leclerc (who received more points for his three wins as they were the feature races, which are worth 25 points for a win, whilst race 2 is only worth 15).
      He’s got a better record than many other drivers

      1. @nvherman I initially thought he meant solely F1.

      2. I struggle a bit with those statistics, @nvherman.
        If you explicitly refer to 2016 and 2018, then I immediately ask myself: what did he achieve in 2017? (answer: F2 10th behind Latifi & De Vries).
        And lamenting less points for race 2 in GP3’16 is a bit thick if you fail to mention that race 2 is based on a reverse grid.

        I’m glad he is, and will be, in F1, but you shouldn’t use every trick from “How To Lie With Statistics” to make his career any better than it was.

        1. Rofl, and you are missing the point making your own point. 10th in F2 in 2017 behind Latifi and De Vries but in front of them in 2018 is completely normal and good to see. Rookie years are normally like that and people shine in their 2nd if they are really good.

          Your statistics do the opposite of what you intended lol.

          1. You missed my point.
            I challenge the fact of only presenting part of the statistics (the ones that suit you).
            I never tried to argue the opposite regarding talent/performance (read my other comment)!

  4. Lol upon second reading of the headline it makes it sound like Williams could have chosen one of a couple of really good drivers but they chose AA instead;) Great stuff.

    1. I think they could; few would have declined the opportunity.
      I’m not that surprised that AA came out on top when trying to find a mix of experience, potential, and financial considerations.

      1. @jff Financial considerations? He isn’t a pay driver.

        1. Not sure how you define ‘pay driver’; most drivers bring personal sponsorship.

          And personal sponsorship, salary demands, and other funding (e.g. engine discounts) all add up to the ‘financial considerations’.

          1. ‘Pay driver’ often (but not always…) depends on whether you like the driver or not. If you don’t like him then he’s a pay driver. If you do like him then he brings personal sponsorship.

  5. I’m really pleased he’s coming back – I am a firm believer he didn’t get enough time to develop or grow. The dude had no experience of F1 machinery and was Verstappen’s team-mate in his rookie year, and I don’t think he managed to cope with the pressure. Being at Williams, possibly a low pressure environment where he can grow and build that confidence is important. Also if it wasn’t for collisions that weren’t his fault he would have been sitting on two more podiums than he has – possibly a win. He deserves this chance and I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can do.

    1. @rocketpanda Seconded. Well said.

    2. @rocketpanda

      I agree with the fact that he was thrown in to the deep end way too early. I mean 10 races in his F1 career and he was matched up against Max in a difficult to drive, Red bull car.

      The only issue for me was that Albon didn’t improve his performances for Red bull from his first race for the team to the last race. But there could be a lot of reasons for that. We’ve seen Gasly thrive outside of that environment as well.. So I’m glad Albon is going to have another season to prove himself without the spotlight this time.

      After looking at Perez’s performances this season, it feels maybe fans were too harsh on Gasly and Albon in the past. If a seasoned midfield driver like Perez cannot deliver against Max.. It was always going to be more difficult for Albon and Gasly.

  6. So instead of choosing from “a couple of really good drivers” they chose Albon?

    1. eatthinksleeep (@)
      8th September 2021, 16:08

      Lol I was wondering the same. But based on what was quoted it sounded to me like there were good options available and Albon was one of them!

  7. They had to overcome crony Toto Wolff in a way or another, whose big influence is doing a lot of harm to Formula 1. It’s quite telling for the current level of poorly hidden politics within the business, and the abyss of atractiveness that the sport endured in recent years.

  8. This jost capito seems to be a really good team leader, one who can look beyond the surface for drivers and seems to be bringing the team forward as well.

  9. It won’t be easy for Latifi.

    1. Other than Mazepin and Tsonuda, every other driver on the F1 grid will not make Latifi’s life easy.

  10. The discussions and manoeuvres were probably very complex to get to the signature. Worth a Netflix series on its own I should think.

    Alex mother is Thai and he races under a Thai licence, the co-owner of RedBull is Thai.

    RB want to link up with VW on engines. Capito was a VW racing man.

    A Chinese investor was rumoured to be offering millions for an Alfa or Williams seat for a Chinese driver. Was this the the owner of a competing brand to RB?

    Williams runs Merc engines. Merc do not want a RedBull driver driving their engines and passing back details of the machinery because he is contracted to RB who control his future and when RedBull are recruiting Merc staff to make their own.

    Williams needs Merc engines next year and the supply contracts will stipulate use and security of intellectual property so they need to consult Merc and get a nod (ie a legal letter of intent).

    And that is ignoring any business relationship between the other players and the Dorilton board or their billionaire backer.

    What a tangled web to navigate. Well done all and well done Alex.

  11. He’s in a position where if he works hard and proves himself, he could have a chance of Hamilton’s seat in a couple years.

    1. Mercedes will only select the best driver in F1 to replace the best driver in F1. If George can match Lewis by 2023 then it’s Russell. Otherwise it’s Max, Charles or Lando. Albon will never be in that league.

  12. Good choice.

    I hope Dieter asks Capito straight up what was the pressure from Mercedes to not hire him.

    1. @balue
      Have a look at Mark Hughes latest article in the race in which he connects the dots and explains why Williams refused to bow to Wolff’s demands.

      1. @tifoso1989 Although Hughes does like to speculate, it’s still very interesting. The VW connection with Capito and VW sitting in on the future regs engine meetings is of course significant, but I still fail to see the Red Bull connection in that. VW partnering with Red Bull Powertrains then? Is that the theory?

        1. @balue
          That theory has been circulating since 2014 and reported from various sources when RBR have realised that Renault didn’t only produced a bad PU but they were completely lagging with regard to the hybrid technology. At the time VW were aiming to partner with RBR starting from 2018 through one of its top brands (Audi, Porsche) but the problem was that they didn’t have the knowledge of the hybrid technology.

          RBR figured out a way to help VW with this regard by partnering with Mercedes. That way they will have the knowledge of the Mercedes PU and then transfer it to VW. It was rumoured that Marko spoke with Lauda about the possible partnership with Mercedes and Lauda agreed straightaway. The thing is RBR got blocked by Toto Wolff at the time and you can tell why he is so much disliked in the RBR camp (Horner, Marko, Mateschitz).

          VW were also hit in the 2015 by the Dieselgate scandal which not only scrapped their plans in motorsport but forced all of their board to resign and the new board had only the emergency target of settling the matter with the regulators in the US and the EU.

          There is also a caveat, VW wants to be always involved in the F1 engine formulas discussions just to get the free publicity and knowledge about future technology.

    2. @balue

      I think Capito answered this question by saying “We are not a B-Team”.

      I know Toto likes to throw his weight around, but Jost is a seasoned racing boss, he didnt cave. Well done to Williams and Jost for standing their ground.

      Albon may do well here, wish him all the best.

  13. Call me romantic, but I was still hoping for a Hülkenberg comeback storyline…

    1. @magon4 Same here – hope he gets the 2nd seat at Alfa Romeo if it’s available.

      1. Sadly that seat will go to Nicky de Vries…

    2. I have seen quite a few comments about Hulkenberg over the last week. I really don’t think he is ever coming back to F1 though. He had his chances.

    3. @magon4 @freelittlebirds @phil-f1-21
      His days as a regular F1 driver are probably over. Being away for two consecutive seasons is unideal unless a driver has achieved something.
      @magon4 Or Zhou.

    4. @magon4 – I was hoping that Nico Hulkenberg would have been chosen as well.

  14. Glad to see him get a second chance and hopes he responds in a similar manner to GAS. It would be interesting to know just what sort of options Red Bull retain.

  15. Super Disappointing Williams picking 2 useless pay drivers, it makes a mockery out of the pinnacle of motorsport. At least with RUS who actually has REAL talent he can extract 100% out of the car and get a result, now we have:
    Latifi – a Mazepin tier awful Zero talent rolling chicane and
    Albon -Stroll tier forgettable mediocre journeyman..
    Unless the 2022 car is going to be the next 2009 Brawn with hidden cheater tech taking advantage of a major rule change I see the team being back markers.

    I never understood why people rate Albon, no offence to him but hes useless, he drove in the 2nd best car on the grid and spent most of the season whining after randomly meme crashing into Lewis and spinning all by himself whilst lapping 1+ second a lap slower than Max wunderkind…

    Also I hate how cynical his journey to F1 has been and how he represents Thailand as a ‘flag of convenience’. Albon is British born, educated, raised, does not speak Thai and groomed into motorsports by his British ex tintop racer father yet changed nationality to his mothers birth nation of Thailand ONLY to receive massive state backing from the Thai gov who want a F1 driver on the grid so offered him a open checkbook to fund his Motorsport aspirations.
    No doubt there will be ‘visit Thailand’ and other random Thai sponsors splashed on the 2022 car..

    I wonder how much the Thailand Government is paying Williams for a seat? Hugo Chavez via state run PDVSA paid 30 million a year for pastor maldonado to play destruction derby at Williams.

    1. Considering what you write about Albons’ speed and talent: He did pretty much the same with the Red Bull than the likes of Gasly and Perez. That’s maybe no world champion material but definitely way better than Stroll. As a backmarker team Williams can’t really be expecting more.
      Considering the rest: Haters gonna hate I guess…

    2. He’s been chosen because he showed great potential before he was chucked into the Red Bull clown car that nobody but Max can get working for them. Yes, Red Bull needed to try another driver instead of Gasly but the whole reason they chose Alex was because he was proving himself. Gasly & now somewhat Perez are useless drivers to you also?

      You seem to be politically motivated in your dislike.

      1. David B, you will find that particular poster has also said that he thinks Perez is overrated. That said, there are a number of other posters on this site who have bashed Perez over the years as well – particularly when the driver comparisons were undertaken in earlier years.

        Just going back a few years to 2018 or 2017, it was not uncommon to see complaints that Perez was being given overly generous rankings when Keith rated drivers at the end of the season, or complaints that his performances were only because the nature of Pirelli’s tyres favoured his driving style and that he wasn’t that great a driver.

        It is true that there were also those complimenting his performances during those years as well, and also suggesting he was underrated. However, I’d say that Perez’s popular perception probably rose most during 2019 and 2020, so it is perhaps not surprising that there are those who might look on Perez in a less favourable light.

        Similarly, you’ll also find that, if you look back a few years to 2018, there were those who felt that Gasly wasn’t that impressive in his performances against Hartley. There was a perception that Gasly’s success over Hartley was more down to Hartley underperforming than Gasly doing that well, and in early 2019 the perceptions of Gasly’s performances at Red Bull were extremely negative.

        Even coming into Formula 1, opinions on Gasly were rather mixed because of questions about his performances in GP2. Whilst he did win the championship, his team mate Giovinazzi very nearly beat Gasly in the title fight, despite Giovinazzi being less experienced than Gasly was (Gasly had done one and a half seasons in GP2 by then, whereas Giovinazzi was a rookie in 2016).

        With Giovinazzi not being looked on in a favourable light for his performances in Formula 1, that comparison between Gasly and Giovinazzi from GP2 days dragged down perceptions of Gasly as well, as he was then seen as being little better than a driver derided as being poor.

        It’s probably only from late 2019, when Gasly moved back to the junior team, that he began being seen in a more positive light for his performances. If your viewpoint is more coloured by his previous performances in junior series and his earlier years in F1, then you might consider Gasly overrated as a result.

        1. So the poster shouldn’t be trusted…

          1. Are you discussing posters again?

          2. I’m just saying “trust no one”.

  16. Does anyone seriously link that the best drivers are in F1? The driver market is a closed shop. I can think of a dozen better drivers than Albon.

  17. I recall Albon vas very good right until he moved fo RBR alongside Verstappen..

    And so was. Gasly and Perez and Ricciardo…

    Now Williams might have a Gasly like driver who is good ever since he moved from RBR.

    Now how many dozen drivers are equally good?

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