RACE DEBRIEF

    With the 2022 Formula 1 season complete with revolutionary new cars almost upon us, we’re looking at the two key questions facing each team this year. Next on the list are Williams.

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    Can Williams build on their strong 2021 foundations?

    Considering 2020 was the first point-less season in Williams’ long and illustrious history, and that they did little development over the winter ahead of 2021 thanks to Covid-19 and resource limitations, even a solitary top-10 finish would have made 2021 a step forward.

    But they did significantly better than that, overperforming – as boss Jost Capito said – with six points finishes, including a shock podium in Belgium) to finish eighth in the constructors’ championship.

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    Their haul of 23 points was more than the previous three seasons combined. Confidence is growing inside Grove, with the investment pumped in by owners Dorilton starting to show results, while Capito’s organisational changes appear to be working.

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    Will there be more of these kinds of scenes for Williams in 2022?

    But the real test is 2022, when Williams have settled their new technical team, headed by Francois-Xavier Demaison, ready to attack a new set of regulations. Retaining eighth now must be the minimum expectation for the boys and girls in blue but achieving that feat – because of the high level of competition – will be harder than getting there in the first place.

    Will Alex Albon shake off his bittersweet Red Bull history with fresh start at Williams?

    Alex Albon looks like a racing driver reborn. His trademark smile is back and the Thai driver is genuinely loving life again with a new lease of life at Williams, following a difficult public demotion by Red Bull.

    Williams are the ideal team for his second chance. They retain the family feel instilled by the squad’s founding Williams family and will create an environment where Albon can spread his wings without pressure, and out of the shadow of a superstar driver like Max Verstappen.

    READ MORE: ‘We all know he has speed’ – Verstappen backs Albon to thrive on F1 return with Williams

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    Albon struggled to shine at Red Bull in 2020

    Part of the reason Williams recruited him is that, alongside his raw speed, he brings with him experience of working with Red Bull, who became a World Championship-winning team again in 2021. He also gets on well with new team mate Nicholas Latifi, having partnered him at DAMS in F2 in 2018, which bodes well for the team dynamic.

    ANALYSIS: Why Williams chose Albon as Russell’s replacement – and retained Latifi for 2022

    And his good friend George Russell – who pushed for Albon to step in, having sorted a Mercedes move for himself – has given him plenty of advice and tips, too, to help with the transition. Much, though, will depend on the quality of the car Williams deliver – and how quickly he can shake off the rust from a year on the sidelines as Red Bull’s reserve.