Williams Racing has confirmed that it will retain its current Canadian driver Nicholas Latifi for the forthcoming season, who will be partnered by Alexander Albon with the Thai driver making a full-time return to Formula 1 .
Williams has joined Mercedes and Alfa Romeo in making announcements regarding its 2022 driver line-up. The team’s British driver George Russell will leave the Grove-based outfit after the 23-year-old secured a race seat at defending champions Mercedes. Williams has now confirmed that Russell will be replaced by Alexander Albon.
After finishing second in the GP3 Series in 2016 and third in the FIA Formula 2 Championship in the following year, the Anglo-Thai racer made his F1 debut in 2019. Albon started the year at Toro Rosso before having been promoted to Red Bull Racing after only twelve races, replacing Pierre Gasly.
The second half of his 2019 season with Red Bull saw him finish in the top six in eight of nine races with his best result being registered with a fourth place finis hat the Japanese Grand Prix. He took his first podium, and the first podium for a Thai driver, at the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix.
Despite the early success and promising pace, Albon was unable to keep up with the pace of his team mate Max Verstappen in 2020, meaning that Red Bull decided to replace him with Sergio Perez for this year. The London-born has since been combining a reserve driver role with Red Bull alongside racing in the DTM championship in 2021.
Jost Capito, CEO of Williams Racing, added: “It is fantastic to be able to confirm our driver line-up for 2022 and I am delighted to be welcoming Alex to the team, along with confirming our continued relationship with Nicholas into next year.
"We are extremely excited by our new line-up, with both drivers bringing a great blend of youth and experience that will not only be a great fit for the team but also help us take the next step in our journey.
“Alex is one of the most exciting young talents in motorsport, yet comes with a large amount of F1 experience from his time at Red Bull. His multiple podium finishes highlight his speed as a driver, and we know he will immediately feel at home with the team at Grove. Nicholas meanwhile has consistently impressed us over the past three years with his hard work, diligence, and positive attitude. He has continued to develop throughout his time at Williams and has grown into an impressive F1 driver, as seen by his points scoring finishes this season.
“We are now looking forward to continuing to build on our positive momentum as a team and finishing this season as strongly as possible, before turning our attentions to 2022.”
Latifi said: “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.
“I’ve felt at home here since the day I arrived, and I think I’m in the right place to continue with my positive trajectory. The aim is to continue making little improvements so we can all take advantage of the opportunity we have next year. I’m super excited to work with next year’s car and it’s like a fresh start for everybody. I feel privileged to be part of that change.”
Albon commented: “I am really excited and looking forward to returning to a Formula One 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.
"It’s also been great to see all the progress Williams have been making as a team this year and I look forward to helping them continue that journey in 2022. My focus now returns to my Test & Reserve Driver role at Red Bull and helping the team fight for this year’s world championship," Albon concluded.