Alex Albon’s good mates and rivals welcomed the announcement that the popular Thai driver would be returning to the Formula 1 grid with Williams in 2022 after a year on the sidelines.
Albon, who lost his Red Bull Racing seat last year and has been that team’s reserve, is part of a group of youngsters who have come up racing each other through the junior series and who remain close.
His return was confirmed by Williams, for next season, on Wednesday ahead of the Italian Grand Prix.
F1 championship-leading former teammate and Red Bull’s ace driver Max Verstappen told reporters, “I’m very happy Alex is coming back to Formula 1.
“He’s been my teammate, he’s a great guy, he’s a hard worker and he definitely deserves a spot in Formula 1. He has a lot of talent so I’m also very sure he will come back strong and show good results,” said Verstappen
Mercedes-bound George Russell, whose place will be taken by Albon, endorsed the selection after pushing his friend’s credentials: “I definitely told the guys who I thought would be best suited. 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,” predicted Russell
McLaren’s Lando Norris, another old rival from Formula 2 when Russell was champion in 2018, Norris the runner-up and Albon third, put out a picture on Twitter on Wednesday of the three of them together with the caption “we’re back”.
Alpine’s 24-year-old French driver Esteban Ocon, who also had to take a year out of Formula 1 before securing his return, said it was fantastic news: “He’s one of the drivers that deserve that shot. I can imagine how tough that year must have been for him, being in that position.
“He’s been on the simulator and watching from the outside. It’s painful, you have to be patient. I’m glad to see him back. I’ve been racing with him for a very long time and I can’t wait to share more memories with him on the track,” added the Frenchman. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)