Jost Capito opens up on the decision to hire Alexander Albon alongside Nicholas Latifi at Williams for the 2022 F1 season.
The name of Albon with Williams started doing rounds around the end of the summer break and it took only couple of weeks to be confirmed, despite the threat of Nyck de Vries. The Thai returns to F1, replacing one of his best friends, George Russell.
He did advocate for Albon as Capito revealed. The Williams Racing CEO further expanded on the decision to take the Thai, who has F1 experience, as opposed to someone like de Vries, with none for now. The Dutchman’s dream remains unfulfilled as of now.
Further on Capito discussed on taking in a Red Bull academy driver despite the discussions regarding Mercedes not wanting a rival F1 outfit’s driver driving their power unit. But being an independent outfit, it was the team’s own decision rather than getting influenced.
Capito is confident in the abilities of Albon to adjust well alongside Latifi, with whom he partnered with at DAMS in F2. Following the announcement, the Williams spoke to media including FormulaRapida.net, about various topics regarding the decision:
Why Albon and Russell’s influence –
Capito: “It was a difficult decision because there are a couple of really good and promising drivers out there, for us it finally got to what is the combination of youth and F1 experience and also having a really good fit in the team. Alex and Nick have been teammates in F2 so have a very good relationship and for us also at the stage where Williams is now we have to make sure that we have a good relationship communication between both sides of the garage and as they work together in the past they know each other which was taken into consideration. And with Nick we wanted to have continuation as well.
“I’m not keen on changing two drivers at the same time and not just that because Nick is doing a really good job this year and he’s improving and can make a step up next year. I built a very close relationship with George through this season and we work very well together and of course he told me what he thinks about Alex and that they are personal friends as well. It’s very much appreciated what George thinks of Alex but on the other hand I had to be very rational about it to evaluate which driver is the right driver for us. I wouldn’t say he has influenced but confirmed we have made the right decision.”
Not in hurry but still made the decision, Russell’s Mercedes decision –
Capito: “We said we’d take the time until we really know what we want to do and we came to the conclusion this is the right thing to do, so it doesn’t make sense to drag on, I think it’s much better for everyone involved that its clear especially as we go to the overseas races. I think with the overseas races you are even less at home and it’s difficult to communicate so we are quite happy that we could get this sorted before we go overseas. It’s simply much more practical and easier to communicate.
“Meanwhile, the discussion between Mercedes and George was an ongoing process. We knew all year that we could lose him to Mercedes because the contract ran out. He did a brilliant job last year in the Mercedes so it was obvious that they would consider taking George and they had the right to do so. Also when it got more clear we were very supportive of that, I’m in favour of supporting drivers even if it doesn’t benefit the team, if you have a driver who is unhappy like if he had seen he could have been in a Mercedes but had to stay at Williams it wouldn’t be a happy driver and wouldn’t deliver what he can deliver.
“So this is why we support him with his talent and experience to be in the car that is championship winning car and team last however many year. At an early stage we looked if that would happen, who would be the right driver to replace George and there were a number of options. It’s difficult to name a number because the options came and went. So at the end there were quite a good number of options where you can choose between long experience, experience and youth or just youth and no experience in Formula 1. And it’s a difficult decision because there are quite a couple of really good drivers around who would all deserve a seat in Formula 1.”
Nationality factor –
Capito: “Not at all, I think we are very international, we are very open, and we don’t choose anybody if it’s in the factory or if it is in whatever position based on the nationality or race or whatever. We choose the best person and we don’t pay any attention to the nationality.”
Red Bull connection, convincing Mercedes –
Capito: “Albon is a Williams driver and we decide what he’s doing and what he’s not doing. As for Mercedes, I’ve got a long lasting relationship with Toto. So when I was at Volkswagen we had to handle F3 the two of us, so that’s when we first worked together very well so we’ve got huge respect for each other and I think he understands our needs as well. Nyck is his driver in FE, I think he’s happy to have him in FE for another season. I think he’s fine with this.
“But on the other hand, Nyck does deserve a seat in F1, there is no doubt. Just for us, we have to balance between youth and experience then Alex has an advantage over Nick. It doesn’t mean that Nyck would have been worse in the seat next year, it doesn’t mean that all and I think Toto at the end he understands and we understand that we are not a B team, we are not a satellite team and we have to take the decisions that are right for us and Toto fully respects that. He also is fully aware of Alex’s capability and that he deserves a seat in F1 so he supports.”
Here’s news from Williams on their line-up