Williams’ announcement on Wednesday marked the fourth piece of 2022 driver market news to be confirmed in three days, as yet more dominoes fell into place and the 2022 grid continues to take shape. 

With Russell departing to partner Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes from 2022, Williams was tasked with finding a suitable replacement to take over from its star driver of the past three years. 

Having evaluated an extensive list of potential candidates, it ultimately chose the Anglo-Thai racer, who has been carrying out reserve duty drivers for Red Bull this season after losing his full-time race seat to Sergio Perez last year. 

Here’s why Williams chose Albon and opted to retain Latifi for 2022…

Why was Albon the right choice?

Albon faced competition from a mix of experienced and junior drivers but Williams ultimately viewed him as the perfect replacement for Russell due to having what it felt was the right combination of his potential and experience from two previous seasons competing in F1. 

While Albon ultimately failed to live up to expectations in the difficult task of being Max Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate, he still racked up two podium finishes and showed flashes of the speed he demonstrated more regularly during his brief stint at Toro Rosso. 

He has gone on to become a race-winner in the DTM this year and at just 25, is still young and has plenty of time to realise his potential. Not to mention, Albon has a big point to prove in F1. 

Capito cited the fact Albon enjoyed a strong relationship with Latifi during their time as teammates in Formula 2 as being something the team took into consideration when making its design. 

“When I look at the whole career of Alex and what he has done, how he worked, his character and also the comments of people having worked with him we came to the conclusion that he is the right guy for us next year,” Capito explained.

“I think he has a fantastic experience. He went through a lot, had ups and downs, is very mature as a driver, and I think for his age he has the best still to come, and that was one of the major decision points.” 

Capito also confirmed he had discussed signing Albon with Russell, who is understood to have thrown his support behind a move for his close friend.  

Will he still be part of the Red Bull family? 

One of the biggest sticking points over a potential deal for Albon to join Williams revolved around his status as a Red Bull contracted driver. 

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, while acknowledging that Albon deserved a seat in F1, was wary about the prospect of a Red Bull driver getting access to sensitive information regarding its power unit at one of its customer teams. 

Wolff made it clear he wanted Albon to be “free” from his Red Bull contract if he were to fill the seat vacated by Russell. 

A Red Bull spokesperson confirmed to Crash.net that the team has released Albon to Williams for 2022 but will “retain a relationship” with its current test and reserve driver that “includes future options”. 

While Capito refused to be drawn on the details of the contract, he indicated that Wolff was ultimately in favour of Williams’ decision to sign Albon and said he is eager to have Albon for the long term.

“I think Toto at the end understands and we understand we are not a b-team, we are not a satellite team, we have to take the decisions that are right for us and he fully respects that,” Capito said.

“He is fully aware of the capability that Alex has and is also of the opinion that Alex deserves a seat in Formula 1, so he supports.”

Why did Williams retain Latifi? 

Latifi’s stay was expected, especially following Capito’s heavy hinting in recent weeks that Latifi would be rewarded with a contract extension. 

Continuity was a big factor behind the decision to retain Latifi for a third successive season 

While Latifi has largely been overshadowed by Russell’s heroics, the Canadian has still impressed Williams this season after making notable improvements both on Saturdays and Sundays. 

Latifi has proved he is a very capable driver and has plenty to offer the team, on top of the funding he brings to the table. 

A brilliant drive to seventh in Hungary and a strong qualifying performance that ultimately secured back-to-back points finishes in Spa helped seal the deal for Williams. 

“With Nicky, of course, we wanted to have continuation as well,” Capito said. 

"I’m not keen on changing two drivers at the same time and not just that, because Nicholas is doing a really good job this year and he is still improving. I think he can make [another] step up next year.

“He has consistently impressed us over the past three years with his hard work, diligence, and positive attitude. He has continued to develop throughout his time at Williams and has grown into an impressive F1 driver.”