Dave Robson speaks on the programme Williams has for Alexander Albon while adding on Logan Sargeant’s simulator role and F1 test run.

Albon is back for 2022. It’s been well documented that he is at Williams for next season.  Some say he was unlucky in the first place not to be on the grid for the season just gone but that’s how it works out sometimes. For 2021, he had a busy time nonetheless.

He was a test and reserve driver at Red Bull/AlphaTauri and took over as a coach to Yuki Tsunoda late in the season. Regarding racing, he drove in the DTM series and acquitted himself well with sixth in the championship and he was also a race winner.

It was announced in September that Albon would return to F1 with Williams as team mate to Nicholas Latifi. It is not the first time that as they were teammates in F2/GP2 days previously but it is now in F1 with a new team, new beginnings, new personnel to know.

In a way, when a driver returns to the sports like he is doing or Fernando Alonso this season just gone, it is like starting afresh and brand new, which it is in a roundabout way. Head of Vehicle Performance Robson has it all planned and worked out for Albon for next season.

“We’ve got that programme more or less sketched out for his time in the factory, beginning of next year,” said Robson when asked by FormulaRapida.net. “So obviously he’s got a lot of people to meet and do the normal sort of seat fit work and, and make sure that he’s going to be comfortable in the camp.

“We then got a fairly extensive simulator program lined up. So Nicholas has already kicked off some of that, the FW44, our car for next year, that work in the simulator along with the other drivers who do the simulator work. So that our programme is well underway and Alex will join it for real in January,” summed up Robson.

It’s not just Albon joining but Sargeant was announced as a Williams academy driver back in October. His role will be predominantly simulator work but he did get the opportunity to drive for the team at the end of season test at Yas Marina too. He is entered into a long term deal and for 2022 will also partake in the F2 series with Carlin Motorsport.

For Williams, it is crucial for Sargeant to get a test drive in order to be certain with hims simulator role. “It’s always great to get a new driver in and see how they cope,” said Robson. “Not just with actually the time in the car and just driving it, but there’s more to it than that. So we use the time to kind of introduce him to a car, typical format for us at a race weekend, and he could get fully immersed in that and start to understand why things happen and why we do as we do.

“So I think that’s all valuable experience. It’s a crucial first step to then, the next time he gets the chance to drive a car. He will have already got that initial experience under his belt and then you start to see his real traits as a driver plus on top of that, a big value for us is that he gets some time in the car and get some time with us and then we can use that back in the simulator.

“He can drive the FW43B – this year’s car – exactly as he does in the test and do that in the simulator. That massively adds value to his simulator work. So there’s plenty of benefits for us per se, where we actually form any judgment of his future potential as a formula one driver based on that day, I think not, but it’s, it’s the precursor to being able to turn the future,” summed up Robson.

It’s an exciting time for Williams although it still seems odd that Sir Frank is no longer with us and that Claire stepped away also. The experience that Albon had gained up to now will be invaluable and Latifi is no longer a new kid on the block going into his third season. Sargeant is also highly thought of in racing circles up to now.

The story was written by Neil Farell

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