Alex Albon to return to Formula One with Williams

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Alex Albon is returning to Formula One to drive for Williams (AFP/Mark Sutton)
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Alex Albon will return to the Formula One grid next season after agreeing a deal to race for Williams, the British-based team announced on Wednesday.

The London-born Thai will take George Russell's seat following confirmation of the British driver's deal to join Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes in 2022.

Albon, 25, was replaced by Sergio Perez at Red Bull after he struggled to keep pace with Max Verstappen in his first full season with the team in 2020.

But following 12 months on the sidelines, Albon will be handed a second chance in the sport, racing alongside Canadian Nicholas Latifi, 26, who has been retained by Williams for a third season.

"I am really excited and looking forward to returning to a Formula One race seat in 2022," said Albon.

"When you take a year out of F1 it's never certain you will make a return so I'm extremely thankful to Red Bull and Williams for believing in me and helping me on my journey back to the grid."

Albon made his F1 debut for Red Bull's second team Toro Rosso in 2019 before being promoted midway through the season and going on to secure two podium finishes in 2020.

Jost Capito, CEO of Williams Racing, said: "We are extremely excited by our new line-up, with both drivers bringing a great blend of youth and experience that will not only be a great fit for the team but also help us take the next step in our journey.

"Alex is one of the most exciting young talents in motorsport, yet comes with a large amount of F1 experience from his time at Red Bull.

"His multiple podium finishes highlight his speed as a driver, and we know he will immediately feel at home with the team."

Red Bull said they had worked to help Albon secure a drive for 2022 to help his development.

"We rate Alex very highly and with our line-up for 2022 fixed, our objective was to help find him a seat in another team where he could gain more F1 mileage and experience and we are delighted to have done that with Williams," said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.

Russell, 23, whose much-anticipated move to Mercedes was finally confirmed on Tuesday, tweeted: "Mega happy for @WilliamsRacing, @NicholasLatifi and @alex_albon. Awesome line-up for 2022, very well deserved."

Current Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas is switching to Alfa Romeo next season, paving the way for Russell's move.

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