Why Williams were eager to keep Alex Albon in a seat for 2023 and beyond

Thomas Maher
Alex Albon, Williams, during the Hungarian GP. Budapest, July 2022.

Williams' Alex Albon during the Hungarian Grand Prix. Budapest, July 2022.

Williams’ team boss Jost Capito has revealed why the team were eager to keep Alex Albon on for 2023, after his return to F1 this season.

Following on from his return to Formula 1 this season after a year on the sidelines, Williams have retained the services of British-Thai racing driver Alex Albon for 2023.

Albon was dropped from his racing seat with Red Bull at the end of the 2020 season, and spent 2021 working as Red Bull’s development and reserve driver.

His work behind the scenes earned him public praise from Christian Horner, Helmut Marko, and Max Verstappen as his input proved crucial in helping the team land the Drivers’ Championship for Verstappen.

This resulted in Red Bull coming out to bat for Albon in the driver market, helping him to secure a seat with Williams for 2022. While the FW44 has been largely uncompetitive, he has scored the team’s only three points, scoring two separate points finishes at the Australian and Miami Grands Prix.

Team boss Jost Capito confirmed Albon will stay on with Williams next season, with both parties agreeing a “multi-year” deal, and revealed the strengths that Albon has brought to Williams this year.

“Alex is a tremendous driver and valued member of Williams Racing, so we’re thrilled to be able to confirm we will be working with him on a long-term basis,” Capito said.

“Alex brings a great blend of skill and insightful learnings that will help bring the team greater success in the future. He’s a fierce competitor, and has proved a popular and loyal team member and we are delighted that he will provide a stable base for us to continue to develop in this new F1 car era.”

Williams ‘very impressed’ with Alex Albon

Speaking ahead of his confirmation, during the French Grand Prix weekend, Capito spoke at length about Albon’s strengths in 2022. He revealed that the mild-mannered racer is a “real fighter” once the lights go out, and urged him to become tougher with his colleagues.

“I’ve been very impressed with Alex,” he said.

“Alex is a very nice guy and very well behaved outside the cockpit and, when he closes his visor, he becomes a real fighter. And then we develop him and say ‘you can be also a bit more [of a] fighter outside the car. When you talk to the engineers, be a bit more tough with them’.

“I think now, as the relationship with the driver and the engineers gets closer, this also gets much better. But we are very impressed with him.

“And as I mentioned before, I think the year out of the car made him very well understand how the dynamics of a driver and the team works as he has seen the team working with the drivers from the outside, and I think that helps him a lot.”

Williams' Alex Albon at the Canadian Grand Prix. Montreal, June 2022.
Williams' Alex Albon at the Canadian Grand Prix. Montreal, June 2022.

Recent upgrades have helped Alex Albon’s confidence

With Williams rolling out significant upgrades during the British Grand Prix weekend, with Albon the initial beneficiary of the package, Capito said it’s obvious his confidence has taken a step forward.

“I think the car now with the upgrade delivers more confidence to the driver. And it’s more stable, so for sure that improves his confidence,” he said.

“But you know, he was one year not in the car. He was strong right away getting back in the car. And you know, you have to develop the relationship with the driver, the engineers, the team, and that takes a couple of races and I think now we are a well-operating team and Alex feels very at home with Williams.”

With his immediate future now secured, Albon himself said he’s looking forward to getting stuck in with Williams for his immediate future: “It’s really exciting to be staying with Williams Racing for 2023 and I look forward to seeing what we can achieve as a team in the remainder of this season and next year.

“The team is pushing hard to progress, and I am really motivated to continue this journey and further develop our learnings together.”

Who will be Alex Albon’s team-mate?

While Albon’s form this year relative to Nicholas Latifi meant it was always likely he would be kept on, it’ll be reassuring for Albon to have that clarity to take with him for the remainder of the year.

The big question mark now is who might be his team-mate. With Williams now owned by Dorilton Capital, finances aren’t as critical as two years ago, meaning Latifi and his financial backing isn’t as critical to their survival as in the past.

This means that a likely candidate is junior driver Logan Sargeant – the Florida native is impressing in Formula 2 this year, and Capito has spoken highly of the American.

“Of course we are impressed,” he said during the French GP weekend.

“It’s his first season in F2. We didn’t put any pressure on him. So he has the time to develop and he’s really impressed us with how fast he has got to grips with the car, about the tyre management and getting results. How he got the pole yesterday [in France] was really impressive. He will be in a Formula 1 car in the future, I’m absolutely convinced.”

There’s also the possibility of Oscar Piastri, the reigning F2 Champion, following his denial of driving for Alpine next year, while a curveball could be Daniel Ricciardo, if McLaren are set to cut him loose for 2023…