If last Tuesday was a day of confusion in Formula 1, with Alpine rushing an announcement about the arrival by Oscar Piastri, who, hours later, said it wasn’t like that, Williams decided to take the opportunity to make waves with the public. In the end, he used the morning of this Wednesday (3) to announce the renewal of Alexander Albon’s contract for the 2023 F1 season.
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Williams’ joke was to create suspense and, still in the early hours of the morning, warn that he would make an important announcement at 4 pm local time. [11h de Brasília, GMT-3]. Could it be something more related to Piastri, the announcement that Nicholas Latifi is not staying or a new driver to represent the cadres of the Grove team? None of that. It is the renewal of Albon, who goes for a second year with the team.
It wasn’t just the team that joked. As soon as the announcement was made, Albon took to social media to parody Piastri’s statement the day before, claiming he wouldn’t be an Alpine pilot in 2023.
“I understand that, with me in agreement, Williams released a press release this afternoon saying that I will be driving for them next year. That’s right, and I’ve signed a contract for 2023, I will drive for Williams next year.” Piastri soon spoke up. “Congratulations, friend,” along with an image that said “well played,” indicating that he liked the joke.
According to Williams, the deal this time is not for just one season, but multi-year. In this way, the Thai will defend the team at least for 2023 and 2024.
“Alex is an incredible driver and a valued member of Williams, so we are ecstatic to be able to confirm that we will work together for the long term. Alex has brought a great mix of skills and insightful learnings that will help bring more success to our team in the future,” said Williams CEO and Team Principal Jost Capito.
“He is fierce, has proven himself to be a popular and loyal member, and we are delighted that he has provided us with a stable foundation to continue development in this new era of F1.”
Albon also spoke more seriously, without the joke. “It is really exciting to stay with Williams in 2023, and I look forward to seeing what we can achieve as a team towards the end of this season and into next year. The team has been striving to make progress, and I am really motivated to continue this journey and further develop our learnings together,” he stated.
Albon’s career has always been a huge roller coaster. The Thai had a very troubled start, on and off the tracks, but he returned to good results in 2014, when he finished third in the F-Renault season. From then on, things started to pick up.
In the European F3 2015, an only reasonable seventh place with the Signature team, but which gave access to what was at the time GP3. And there the moment turned. By ART, he was runner-up in 2016, losing the championship to Charles Leclerc, but already showing enormous potential.
The following year, Alex finished tenth in F2 with the same team, before switching to DAMS in 2018 and claiming a big third place in a class that had, in front of him, none other than George Russell and Lando Norris, two of his childhood best friends, from the kart days.
In GP3 and F2, Albon left behind names like Nyck de Vries, Álex Palou, Sérgio Sette Câmara, Luca Ghiotto, Santino Ferrucci and Nicholas Latifi.
Boosted by the great results at the base, the Thai was very close to signing with Nissan to race in Formula E, but Toro Rosso crossed over and closed with the young talent to fill the vacancy left by Pierre Gasly, then promoted to Red Bull.
Still in 2019, Gasly ended up relegated and Albon jumped in line with Daniil Kvyat, being chosen by Helmut Marko and Christian Horner to line up with Max Verstappen in the first team, where he stayed for a season and a half until he was replaced by Sergio Pérez.
Alex ended up in the DTM in 2021, in the Red Bull project with Ferrari, achieving a no more than average sixth place, while teammate Liam Lawson fought for the title until the last race. In 2022, the return to F1 came for Williams, with 3 points won in the first half of the season and a historic performance at the Australian GP.
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