Williams credit Mercedes/Red Bull cooperation in securing Albon deal for 2022

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Williams chief Jost Capito credited the cooperation of both Red Bull and Mercedes in helping sign Alex Albon for 2022.

In a week that has seen many of the pieces on next year's Formula 1 grid fall into place... On Wednesday, it was confirmed the London-born Thai driver would return alongside Nicholas Latifi, following the departure of George Russell to Mercedes.

However, reaching that point involved some delicate negotiations as Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, who had previously stated he wouldn't block Albon from joining Williams, made it clear it was only possible if he cut ties with Red Bull.

This is because the German manufacturer supplies both engines and gearboxes to Williams, so Wolff was rightly concerned that having Albon both at Williams and tied to Red Bull, who are launching their own Powertrains division, could provide their main rivals with very useful information.

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As it turns out, the Austrian got what he wanted with Alex being released from the stable, although Red Bull did make it clear they remain very much invested in his future.

While Capito was simply happy to have got the driver he wanted.

“Of course it’s always challenging first to define which driver you really want – and then get it over the line,” the Williams CEO said via Formula1.com.

“I have a great relationship with Toto. We have known each other for a long time. When he started at Mercedes, I was at Volkswagen Motorsport and together we have been in F3 supplying engines, so we had to find ways to handle F3 as two engine manufacturers and to build up a great relationship.

“Red Bull has been a main partner at Volkswagen in the World Rally Championship when I was there so I have great links to Red Bull. These good relationships from the past and ongoing good relationships help to bring all the parties together and they support our choice of Alex.”

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Red Bull are typically very reluctant to release talents they see as long-term investments, just ask Pierre Gasly, but team boss Christian Horner explained this exception.

“We rate Alex very highly and with our line-up for 2022 fixed, our objective was to help find him a seat in another team where he could gain more F1 mileage and experience, and we are delighted to have done that with Williams Racing," he said.

“Alex has been a hugely valuable asset in his role as our test and reserve driver this year, helping bring performance from the simulator to the car each weekend. But for his career, it was important not to spend another season out of an F1 race seat.

“With his place on the grid next year secured, we are delighted to see him realise this opportunity and we will be following his progress closely.”

Williams had also been linked to a Mercedes-backed driver in Formula E champion Nyck de Vries, likely fuelling Wolff's push to resist Albon further, but Capito explained why Albon was the one he wanted.

“We want to move forward, we don’t want to move backwards,” he said. “With that in mind, a driver who is still at the beginning of his career and has quite a lot of experience already was appealing.

“Alex has been in one of the top teams, has driven a race-winning car, has experience of being successful and being on the podium – and is eager to do that again.

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“He will also fit well in the team and already has a relationship with Nicky [Latifi], as they were teammates in F2. All this together was important for us. If we take these attributes and put them through a checklist, Alex is the guy who is the one that fits the most.

“I’m not saying there weren’t other great drivers we could have worked with. Nyck de Vries deserves a chance in F1, he’s a great driver – he deserves a space and I hope he can get one. Valtteri is also a very good fit for Alfa. But for us, Alex was the right choice.”