F1: Returning Albon to join Latifi at Williams for 2022
Former Red Bull driver Alexander Albon will return to the Formula One grid having been confirmed as Nicholas Latifi's team-mate at the Grove squad for the 2022 Season.
Having last raced in the sport at the close of the 2020 Season, Alexander Albon will replace the Mercedes-bound George Russell at Williams where he will partner Canadian Nicholas Latifi who's been retained for a third season.
Albon made his debut in the sport with AlphaTauri, formerly known as Toro Rosso, after impressing the Red Bull family in the junior series to Formula One. In the first 12 races of the season, Albon impressed up against more experienced team-mate Daniil Kvyat, securing five top ten finishes with a best of sixth at the German GP.
Albon's performances were that impressive that Red Bull decided to promote the young Thai-Brit to the senior team replacing an under-performing Pierre Gasly. Albon stepped up to partner Max Verstappen from the Belgian GP onwards and his performances earned him another season at the team.
HARSH REALITY: Many F1 journalists and critics would argue that promoting Albon so early in his career didn't help his progress which didn't allow him to ease into the role
However, being partnered up against Verstappen is one of the toughest gigs in F1 at the moment given just how good the Dutchman is. Albon found this out the tough way and could not consistently perform up at his level. Despite two podium finishes, Albon was dropped ahead of the 2021 Season in favour of Sakhir GP winner Sergio Perez.
Albon dropped down to Red Bull's Test and Reserve driver for this season but he's also been competing in DTM. Driving a Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 under the AlphaTauri name, he currently lies sixth in the championship with 94 points having been able to secure his first win at the second race of the weekend round the Nürburgring.
Along with competing in the series, Albon has also been putting in the time at the factory and at the simulator with Red Bull and himself eager for him to find a seat for next season. As the driver moves started to fall into place, Albon started talks with a number of potential teams.
BEHIND THE SCENES: Albon has worked extremely hard this season which includes test runs in older cars, promotion videos and that's including the time in the simulator
With Red Bull signing Sergio Perez for another season, a way back into AlphaTauri wasn't viable as the team opted to retain both Piere Gasly, who's found bundles of form, and rookie Yuki Tsunoda so the only option was to look elsewhere. With his good friend George Russell heading to Mercedes, a door opened at Williams.
"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." Alex Albon
Meanwhile, Nicholas Latifi has also been comfirmed in staying with the Grove team heading into next season. The Canadian, who made his debut last year, has improved throughout this year but his performances have gone slightly under the radar due to the results team-mate Russell has been putting in.
Latifi managed to score his first points in the sport with seventh place. This was followed by a ninth place at the rain-curtailed Belgian GP. He currently lies 16th in the Championship with seven points.
“I’m excited to be continuing with Williams for another year; partly because of F1's new technical regulations, but also because the team is moving in a more competitive direction with new owners, management and people on the technical side." Nicholas Latifi
Between the two drivers, Albon, who's 25 and Latifi, who's 26 years old, will have 68 race starts combined. It's not a huge amount of experience, but Williams have a solid base of youth, talent and experience.