‘He’s done an exceptional job’ – Russell says it’s ‘no surprise’ to see Albon flourishing at Williams
It’s said that George Russell pushed hard for Williams Team Principal Jost Capito to take on Alex Albon as his replacement for 2022. And the Mercedes driver still believes the team made the right choice, saying it’s been “no surprise” to see Albon succeeding at Williams on his F1 return.
Following two seasons with Toro Rosso and then Red Bull in 2019 and 2020, Albon’s F1 future looked uncertain after he was moved aside in favour of Sergio Perez at Red Bull for 2021, spending the year as test and reserve driver for both that squad and AlphaTauri.
But having earned a drive at Williams for 2022 as Russell’s replacement, Albon has taken all three of the team’s points so far this year – with Russell praising his friend’s start to the season.
“I think Alex has done an exceptional job,” said Russell in Monaco. “There was obviously no secret, he had a tough time at Red Bull, but I think all of us, even probably Max [Verstappen, Albon’s team mate at Red Bull] included, knew how talented Alex was.
“We've all raced each other since 2011,” added Russell. “Alex was a few years older than us, so he was sort of competing against [Nyck] De Vries at the time in KF1 [the top level of karting] I remember. And he's always been there, he's always been one of the very best. So it's no surprise to me and [I’m] happy to see that he's back in Formula 1 and, I think, has cemented his position.”
It’s been a harder start to the season for Nicholas Latifi in the other Williams FW44, Latifi with a best finish of 14th so far in 2022. But the Canadian was also magnanimous in his praise of Albon – his former team mate at DAMS in F2 in 2018 – when asked to compare Russell and Albon’s approaches.
“Similarities? I mean, it goes without saying they're both extremely quick drivers and I mean, especially when Alex was announced as the race driver who was going to be my team mate, I had no illusions that he was not going to be on the pace straight away, despite him missing out a year,” said Latifi.
“I obviously raced against him in 2018 as his team mate, and I know just how quick he was… There’s obviously some little different driving styles here and there, which I kind of knew going into the season as well, just from again having been team mates with Alex before. I won’t share the driving style secrets because maybe they don't want to disclose that! But no, it's been great having them both as team mates.”
Williams currently sit 10th in the constructors’ standings, Albon’s three points leaving them four adrift of nearest rivals Aston Martin.