Williams Team Principal James Vowles believes Alex Albon has the ability to become a Formula 1 World Champion.
The 27 year-old has been a key figure within Williams as the team looks to return to winning ways in the near future, with Vowles taking control at the beginning of 2023.
Albon joined the team after a year on the sidelines as test and reserve driver for Red Bull, after they dropped him from their main lineup at the end of 2020 in favour of Sergio Perez.
He then moved to Williams and has since impressed in a sub-par car, conjuring a points finish quicker than George Russell did when he was at the team.
Vowles believes Albon has developed a lot since his tough spell at Red Bull, where he failed to win a race while teammates with Max Verstappen.
"The Alex you see today is different from the Alex when he was at Red Bull or the Alex at the beginning of the season. He still lacked faith in himself. He has it now. He is happy, he is a leader, he has self-confidence, he works in a structured way and sets the direction. It all sounds easy," Vowles told AmuS.
"But the simplest is often the hardest. You never know how good a driver is compared to another until you put him in the same car as the other at the same time. If other drivers had to drive a Williams tomorrow, they would probably have a hard time.
"Today I know from Alex that he gets the maximum out of the car available to him at any time. And every time you put him under pressure, he withstands the pressure. He can cope with a car that is difficult to drive. This experience can be an advantage for him. For me, Alex has the skills to become world champion once. I mean that honestly."
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Vowles: Ninth was realistic, eighth was a dream
Albon finished in the points seven times throughout 2023, which enabled Williams to fight for seventh place in the Constructors' Championship at the end of the season.
Vowles admits that he did not think fighting for higher than ninth would be possible, after seeing where they finished at the end of the 2022 season.
"This is a very different Williams team from what we saw at the end of 2022 and at the beginning of the season. When I started, I didn't set a goal in which place we would finish the World Championship. I wanted to get this team back on its feet," said Vowles.
"I thought ninth place was realistic, eighth place was a dream. We fought for seventh place because Albon did an incredible job. He defended himself in Montreal, Silverstone and Monza against a whole crowd of drivers who were faster than him.
"Then we managed to improve the package we have in such a way that we could drive into the points on our own. Two counters here, two there. Nevertheless, we have to stay on the carpet. The top teams score almost as many points on a race weekend as we do throughout the year. That's the bar."