In what seems like a weird turn of events, Alex Albon has been signed to drive alongside Nicholas Latifi in the 2022 F1 season for Williams. Red Bull and Mercedes have been rivals ever since 2013, and seeing a Red Bull reserve driver join the ranks of a Mercedes affiliated team seems a bit like a fox in the henhouse. However, for Albon where he drives doesn’t matter as he has finally been given his second chance in F1 following his lacklustre performances at Red Bull.
Now that the deal is done, the question stands. Was Albon the right choice for Williams?
It’s safe to say that Williams isn’t hurting for money anymore according to Jost Capito, Williams team principal. Dorilton Capital’s investment in the team has changed the tides on a team that seems like it was a lost cause just three years ago; with the need for money now out the window, they can focus on racing. I believe Albon will affect the team in three ways: driver chemistry, feedback and development, and results.
It’s no secret that Albon and Max Verstappen didn’t have the best chemistry in the world. They weren’t cold towards each other but they weren’t the best of friends either. That being said Albon might be going to a new team but he won’t be working with a stranger. In 2018, Albon drove in F2 for DAMS alongside his new/former teammate Latifi. The two raced their way to third in the constructor’s title, and a few double podiums with Albon coming home P3 in the final standings. Chemistry is important for any team to succeed, as we saw with the explosive 2016 season between friends turned rivals, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. With the familiarity of Latifi, I can definitely see Albon having a load of pressure taken off his shoulders.
Williams also has much lower expectations than Dr. Marko has at Red Bull, but I feel that Latifi and Albon will be the perfect pair and help build Williams up even further than they have already. Stability is what Valtteri Bottas wanted at Alfa-Romeo and it’ll be exciting to see what he can do now that the pressure is off his shoulders.
Feedback and Development
During his time at Red Bull, it was always reported that Albon was one of the best at giving feedback to help develop the car. With someone coming down from a top team, Albon would certainly know what worked for him at Red Bull and may be able to share some of the things he learned from there.
Any detail can be crucial to a car’s development, however, 2022 is going to have new regulations so most drivers will be going into this completely blind. Albon seems to be a driver that can get the hang of new cars fairly quickly, as we saw with his almost immediate success in both F2 and then F1 with Toro Rosso. Albon could prove to be a hidden gem in helping Williams further develop their new cars, after all, good feedback is always vital. While he has been away from F1, he has not been away from the driver’s seat.
He has served as Red Bull’s testing and reserve driver, as well as joining AlphaTauri AF Corse to drive a Ferrari in DTM alongside Liam Lawson. Albon is well versed in many types of motorsport and should be able to give the team decent feedback.
With two F1 podiums, 197 points, four F2 wins and one DTM win at the Nurburgring, Albon has the talent to back up why he should be in F1. George Russell took the Williams car to heights that haven’t been seen since 2017, and even Latifi has been able to push that car to its limit and get some good results of his own.
With the added stability, and the new regulations I can definitely see Albon going for points as often as he can. A driver with something to prove, the second chance given to Albon will help breathe some new life into not just him but the team. I predict Albon will 100% score a few points finishes, probably not any podiums but hey you never know what could happen.
Alex Albon was the right choice for Williams, it will be exciting to see what he will do in 2022. While I do hope Nyck De Vries will finally get his chance, I think Albon will excel and hopefully work his way up the Mercedes or Red Bull ladder once again.
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