Two important vacancies in the Formula 1 driver market gained owners this Wednesday (8). Williams announced in one shot the two chosen to form the 2022 duo: Alexander Albon, who arrives to replace George Russell, and Nicholas Latifi, who renews his contract for another year.
The speed of the decision is surprising, given the soap opera that was taking place behind the scenes of F1. Albon was the reason for an arm wrestling between Mercedes and Red Bull: the former would only want the Thai at Williams if he broke ties with the latter. It wasn’t necessary, with Alex retaining the support of the Taureans.
In the case of Latifi, renewal is a relief. The Canadian heard from Williams that financial support was no longer a determining factor to renew the contract. Talent would make a difference, therefore. The good form of the Canadian, who scored in two consecutive GPs in 2021, seems to have made the difference.
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“It’s fantastic to be able to confirm our line-up of drivers for 2022 and I’m delighted to welcome Alex to the team, along with confirming that our relationship with Nicholas will continue into the coming year,” said Jost Capito. “We are extremely excited about our new line-up, with both riders bringing a good mix of youth and experience that will not only be a great combination for the team, but will also help us take the next step on our journey,” he continued. .
“Alex is one of the most exciting young talents in motorsport and comes with a wealth of experience from his time with Red Bull. His multiple podiums highlight his speed as a driver, and we know he will immediately feel at home with the team in Grove,” he bet.
After a whole year out of the category, after being replaced by Sergio Pérez at Red Bull and making the DTM season, Albon was grateful for another opportunity in Formula 1, this time in the third different team.
“I’m very excited about this return to Formula 1 in 2022. When you leave the category for a year, you never know if you’ll come back. So I’m very grateful to Red Bull and Williams for believing in me and helping me to come back. It’s also great to see all the progress Williams is making this year. I’m already looking to the future with the desire to help them on this journey in 2022. My focus now is to return to my role as reserve and test driver for Red Bull, I want to help them win this year’s Worlds”, he concluded .
Red Bull boss Christian Horner also applauded Albon’s return to the grid. “We value Alex a lot and, with our pair of drivers closed, our goal was to help him find a place on another team to gain more mileage and experience. It is a pleasure to do this alongside Williams. Alex has been very valuable to us as a reserve and test driver this year, helping to transform simulator performance into in-car performance every weekend. But, thinking about his career, it’s important not to spend another year without a place in F1. With a place on the grid guaranteed, we are excited about the opportunity and we will follow his progress closely”, he said.
Another announcement made was the maintenance of Nicholas Latifi. The Canadian will leave for the third straight season in the category, always with Williams. Despite taking a good financial help for the team, the renewal was not confirmed yet. Recently, Capito even said that the team no longer needed paying pilots, putting the vacancy open. In 2021, Latifi managed to score for the first time, reaching the top-10 at the Hungarian and Belgian GPs, despite being consistently beaten by George Russell in the standings and races.
“I’m excited to stay at Williams for another year, not least because of the new technical regulations for the category, but also because of the more competitive direction the team is taking, with the new owners, the new command and technical innovations. I feel at home from the day I arrived. I feel that this is the right place to continue my journey. The goal is to keep making small improvements to have a full advantage next year. I’m really excited to be working on next year’s car, I hope it’s a fresh start for everyone. I feel privileged to be part of this change”, said Latifi.
“Now we are looking forward to continuing to build on our positive momentum as a team and to finish the season as strong as possible before turning our attention to 2022,” he concluded.