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Alexander Albon

How long before a top team snatches Albon?

Top teams will be taking note of the Thai-British driver and his recent form on track, but how long before he makes the move back to race-winning car?

Albon Canada
Article
To news overview © XPBimages

Alexander Albon is proof a Formula 1 driver can rejuvenate after a tough spell at the top against one of the most difficult teammates.

Two years on since he was confirmed to be joining Williams for the 2022 season, Albon has played a major role in the team's revival project under bosses Jost Capito and, for 2023, James Vowles.

The impact was pretty much immediate in 2022, with Albon managing to finish in the points at the third race in Australia after making a bold last-lap pit stop strategy work.

By contrast, it took Mercedes prodigy George Russell, the driver Albon replaced, 48 races before he claimed points for the team at the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix.

For the 2023 season, Albon has now surpassed Russell's recent record of more than four finishes in the points, with his latest coming at the Italian Grand Prix where he fended off regular podium finishers Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris to grab seventh place, beaten only by the Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes cars.

Out of the 21 points the team has scored so far, all of them have come from Albon. With such an impact on a team's fortunes, how long is it before one of the 'big three' takes notice?

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Albon's 'calmness' impresses

The pivotal weekend in Williams progress this year came at the British GP, where Albon claimed points for a third time with a great drive to eighth.

This all stemmed from his performance in the tricky qualifying session on Saturday, when rain hit the track in the opening moments of Q1 and a red flag was thrown for the stricken Haas of Kevin Magnussen.

Albon went back out on slick tyres and quiet set the fastest time in Q1 on the drying track.

Head of Vehicle Performance, Dave Robson, recalled the session when speaking to media, including RacingNews365: "I think what impressed me about Alex particularly was just how utterly calm he was. Despite when the red flag came out in Q1, we weren't in a good position.

"When it came to it, we sent them out there to queue [in the pit lane]. Then you are losing tyre pressure, it's not the ideal way to start a lap but we had to get a clear lap in and it was an exceptional lap.

"I think that all started from him [Albon] being totally calm, not panicked at all when the red flag came out, came back to the garage, he was completely calm, completely relaxed, happy - it was all under his control."

Albon's consistency has also improved with six appearances in Q3 so far in 2023, which equals that of Esteban Ocon in the Alpine and is just two off the eight appearances by Perez.

Albon qualifying appearances 2023

Q1 Q2 Q3
4 4 6

Where could Albon fit in?

It's worth noting that although Albon had Red Bull logos on his helmet last season, this was due to a personal sponsorship arrangement with the Thai division of the soft drinks company.

The Red Bull F1 team does not have him 'on loan' to Williams, but given the previous relationship between the two entities a return could be possible.

The team currently has a driver conundrum to solve for the next couple of seasons, as Sergio Perez becomes a less favourable option, Daniel Ricciardo states his intent to come back, and Liam Lawson proves his worth.

Mercedes has locked in both their drivers until the end of 2025, while Ferrari could be a possibility if Carlos Sainz's camp decides to look elsewhere for a future drive.

By this stage, it's likely that a team such as McLaren or Aston Martin will be established front runners if they can continue their current form.

For his part, Albon has a contract that goes beyond the 2024 season with Williams and sees his short-term future with the team. But as he continues to show his worth by outperforming the FW45, it will not be long before he gets back into a race-winning car, something this karting prodigy has shown he deserves a second-chance of.

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