September 25, 2021

Williams chose Albon over “a couple of really good drivers” for 2022 seat | 2022 F1 season

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Williams made an early start on choosing a replacement for George Russell as it was “obvious” he stood a realistic chance of moving to Mercedes.

The team’s CEO Jost Capito said that gave them plenty of time to settle on ex-Red Bull and Toro Rosso driver Alexander Albon as his replacement, having considered an array of alternatives.

“At an early stage we looked at, if it would happen, who would be the right driver to replace George,” he explained. “And there were quite a number of options. It’s difficult to name a number [of drivers] because the options came and went.

“So at the end there were quite a good number of options where you can choose between long experience, experience and youth or just youth and no experience in Formula 1. And it’s a difficult decision because there are quite a couple of really good drivers around who would all deserve a seat in Formula 1.”

Albon will return to a race seat after being moved into a reserve driver role following his tough campaign alongside Max Verstappen at Red Bull last year. Capito said the quality of Albon’s other performances persuaded them to take him up for next year.

“He’s done a great job,” said Capito. “Being the team mate of Max is something something very difficult, as much as difficult to be the team mate of Hamilton. And you see it in McLaren how difficult it is for Danny [Ricciardo] to come into a new car as well.

“So I think it’s very difficult to judge somebody just on one season. You have to see the whole career and what he has done. And there are always different circumstances. You can’t just judge in a single race results.

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“So when I look at the whole career of Alex, what he has done and how he works and his character and also the comments of people having worked with him, we came to the conclusion that he is that he’s the right guy for us for next year.”

Capito insisted the British team was not seeking a driver of the same nationality to replace George Russell. “Not at all,” he said.

“I think we are very international, we are very open, and we don’t choose anybody – if it’s in the factory or if it is in whatever position – based on the nationality or race or whatever. We choose the best person and we don’t pay any attention to the nationality.”

Williams never seriously considered opposing Russell’s move to the world champions, Capito added.

“The discussion about Mercedes and George was an ongoing process,” he said. “Of course we knew all year that we could lose him to Mercedes because that contract ran out and he’s done a brilliant job last year when he’s been in the Mercedes. So it was obvious that they would consider taking George and they had the right to do so.

“When it got more clear, we were very supportive of that as well. I’m very much in favour of supporting drivers even if it’s not the best for the team. You don’t benefit as a team if you have a driver who is not happy. If George could be in a Mercedes but had to stay at Williams, he wouldn’t be a happy driver and wouldn’t deliver what he can deliver.

“So this is why we support him with his talent and with his experience to be in the car that is the championship-winning car and the championship-winning team of the last how-many years.”

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