Another piece of Formula 1’s driver market has slotted into place with the renewal of Alexander Albon at Williams for a multi-year contract.
Albon, 26, joined Williams for 2022 after spending last year as Red Bull’s test and reserve driver. He previously raced for Toro Rosso and Red Bull across 2019/20, scoring two podiums, but struggled to match the performance of Max Verstappen.
Williams has lacked overall speed through 2022, but Albon (pictured above at Barcelona in February) has spearheaded the team’s prospects with a sequence of impressive drives. He managed to secure top 10 results in Australia and Miami, despite compromised grid positions, and came close to adding to his tally in Italy, Azerbaijan, and Austria.
Albon’s original signing by Williams signaled a long-term strategy, and consequently his renewal for 2023 comes as little surprise but firms up both parties’ plans for the next campaign. Albon used the opportunity to playfully wade in on the drama surrounding Oscar Piastri by mirroring the style of message used by the Australian to denounce Alpine’s announcement.
“I understand that, with my agreement, Williams Racing have put out a press release this afternoon that I am driving for them next year,” wrote Albon. “This is right and I have signed a contract with Williams for 2023. I will be driving for Williams next year.”
In an official release, Williams Team Principal Jost Capito said: “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.
“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, 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 has yet to outline who will be Albon’s teammate in 2023.
Nicholas Latifi has occupied the seat since 2020, but his results through 2022 have been disappointing and Williams is understood to have scouted alternatives.
Williams was in discussions with Alpine over a loan arrangement for Piastri, when Alpine believed it was going to keep Fernando Alonso alongside Esteban Ocon. But the Australian’s representatives have instead targeted McLaren, following Tuesday’s dramatic rejection of Alpine’s announcement that he will race for them in 2023, which came in the aftermath of Alonso switching to Aston Martin.
Williams has talked up young driver Logan Sargeant in recent months, having been impressed by his progress through his rookie Formula 2 season. Sargeant is due to drive during practice at the US Grand Prix in October, fulfilling Williams’ obligation to young drivers per the new-for-2022 regulations. Sargeant still needs to finish top five overall in F2 in order to secure the F1 Super Licence, and he is currently third in the championship.
Williams has also been linked to reigning Formula E champion Nyck de Vries, who is affiliated to power unit partner Mercedes, and who carried out FP1 for Williams at May’s Spanish GP.