With George Russell heading to Mercedes, the Anglo-Thai racer was confirmed as his replacement alongside Nicholas Latifi for the 2022 season on Wednesday, sealing his full-time comeback to F1 after a year on the sidelines. 

Albon was promoted from Toro Rosso to become Verstappen’s teammate at Red Bull just 12 races into his rookie F1 season in 2019 but struggled against the Dutchman and lost his seat at the end of 2020. 

“I’m happy for George, but I think this was quite a logical step and I think everyone could see it coming; it was maybe the worst kept secret anyway, so it was not a shock,” Verstappen said of Russell’s promotion to Mercedes for 2022. 

“But I’m also very happy with Alex coming back to Formula 1,” he added. “He’s been my teammate, he’s a great guy, he’s a hard worker and he definitely deserves a spot in Formula 1 and he has a lot of talent so I’m sure he will come back strong and show good results. 

“He knows he has the speed; I think we all know that he has, he’s shown it from go-karting.

“But probably in a less pressured environment, it will be good to just come back like that, and like I said, I’m sure he will do well. Of course, you need to get used to the car, we all do, with new rules, but he’ll do good.”

Alongside racing in the DTM this year, Albon has acted as Red Bull’s reserve and test driver, a role which has seen him spend a lot of time working on the team’s simulator during grand prix weekends. 

Red Bull boss Christian Horner credited Albon’s simulator work as being a key factor in the team’s victory at the Monaco Grand Prix earlier this year and Verstappen also praised the 25-year-old’s contribution this season. 

“We talked a lot about the car and when Alex is on the simulator, his findings,” he explained. “So also you know, when we have questions on the Friday and Alex is on the sim or whatever, he knows the car.

“Of course the car has changed a little bit from last year and the year before, but the general way of driving is the same. So you can relate to a lot of stuff, what’s going on also with development 

Mercedes-bound Russell said he had recommended his close friend to Williams.

“I definitely told the guys who I thought would be best suited," the Briton said. "I think Alex's experience managed to tip the scales in his favour.

"Alex is a fantastic driver. He obviously had a tough time at Red Bull but I think he's going to come back even stronger.

“He's always been there in everything he's ever done and I'm sure the environment at Williams is going to suit him to a T."