Albon says Williams F1 “truly believe in me” after extending his contract with the team

Photo Credit: Williams Racing
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Yesterday it was announced that Alex Albon had signed a multi-year contract extension with Williams which would keep him at the team into the era of new Formula 1’s regulations, which is set to begin in 2026.

The British-born Thai driver first joined Williams in 2022 after spending the 2021 season in the role of test and reserve driver for Red Bull, following the signing of Sergio Pérez at the end of the 2020 season. Since his signing, Albon has performed impressively at the Grove-based team, scoring 4 of William’s 8 points in 2022 and 27 of the 28 points in 2023.

With Williams currently in 9th position in the Constructor’s Championship, having not scored a single point in any of the previous six races, Albon was asked about his decision to commit long-term to the team, especially with him already being under contract through the 2025 season, and amid rumoured interest from other teams, including the 2023 World Constructor’s champions, Red Bull.

The 2-time podium finisher identified that Team Principal, James Vowles, and the project proposed by him have been the major factors in his decision.

“Most of it… all of it really [was] just down to knowing James and to knowing the project that was at hand. In some ways, I wish, you know, [that] we had started off in a better way because it would have made everything seem a bit more logical but at the end of it all, there are seismic movements going on behind the scenes at the team, and it’s going to take a bit more time to truly reflect that.”

Albon added that he had been convinced by the direction in which he saw the team to be heading and by the steps being taken by Vowels to improve the team’s performance, rather than by any time-related deadlines.

“I didn’t feel pressured in terms of the time sense. It was just giving the team time to see what kind of direction the team were taking and seeing the steps forward. And obviously, speaking closely with James as well… seeing what he was doing in the team and seeing what steps he was taking to bring us up the field and I believe [in] it.”

When asked whether he had been tempted to wait on further clarity about the potential availability of a seat at Red Bull in 2026, Albon stated that he had not, explaining his preference to be a part of the team’s journey, and highlighting the complexities and uncertainties associated with securing a seat at teams like Red Bull and Mercedes.

“No. it’s all about the journey.

“I think, to look elsewhere and [to] see the ifs, buts and maybes… There’s a lot of moving parts, I think, especially around these kinds of seats, going on right now. Well, there’s only one. I’d say there’s only really on at Mercedes. A lot has to happen and there’s a lot of different ways…”

While Albon claimed to have not wavered in his decision to re-sign with Williams, he did admit to talking to other teams.

“Of course, [I wanted] to keep my options open and see and talk to other teams.”

However, he did reiterate his desire to be a part of the Williams journey and stated that, with his contract signed, he and the team would be able to focus on improving their performance throughout the season.

“Obviously the triggers were super early, generally, this year. I’d say to sign a contract now in May is still very early, but the focus was purely just to get on with it. We have a big journey ahead of us [and] we’re no hiding around with that It’s nice to be able to go into the rest of the year now really just thinking about: ‘Okay, where are the errors that we really need to change and move and develop? What areas in the car, especially from a kind of more personal driving point of view are we not fixing and focusing on and so [on].’

“You know, when you’re kind of going through contract negotiations and all those kinds of stuff that doesn’t really exist too much. It’s kind of more about the present and just focusing on the performances and all of that kind of thing over the weekend.”

He added that with contract negotiations out of the way, and with his contract signed, there was more stability within the team which would allow for a shift of focus onto the team’s long-term development.

He highlighted that Team Principal Vowels had indicated that he saw Albon as “being a part of that journey and that project.” Albon added that he himself believed his role within the team as being more than just being a racing driver.

“I believe [that] my role here with the team is not just being a racing driver. It’s much more than that.”

The Williams driver was asked further about the proposed “seismic” changes at Williams. Albon admitted that the team had been affected by “out-of-date” procedures and issues with software but stated that the team’s ability to compete “on the fringes of points” was due to the people within Williams.

Despite their work, however, he added that the foundational part of the team still needed work but that there were already changes underway. The delay of the car, he said, was partially due to these changes.

“It’s the vision there and it’s the experience of James. When you look at [it], there’s clearly, he’s said it a lot of times, you know, the kind of the out-of-day procedures that we’re doing or even the software of whatever it may be.

“When you think about where we are in terms of performance now, [we’re] still fighting on the fringes of points [and] still able to compete where we are. A lot of that is due to the people we have within Williams.

“But the foundational part of the team still needs work, and you can see a lot of these changes already happening. You see this huge shift. I don’t know if it’s right for me to say what they are, but I know – I see it, I’m part of it, and I believe in it. I see the steps that the team are taking, and they all seem very logical, and they seem to be working already.

“It’s just, as I said, it’s partly why the car was delayed or whatnot. [The team] was making these big changes. It’s taken time so the foundations are now becoming solid and I don’t think they were there a few years ago, so yeah.”

The Thai driver was also reminded of the rise in his market value since his initial move to Williams and was asked about whether he had found it important for the team to recognise the value that he had brought them. In response, Albon stated that this recognition had been part of the reason that he had signed with the team.

He continued by saying that this was particularly in relation to their belief in him and their recognition of his feedback and performance over the years, and that he enjoyed working at the Grove-based team.

“It is and it’s obviously also part of the reason I signed with the team. It’s because, not for the value as in the monetary point, but in terms of the belief [that] they have in me. I feel like, I’ve talked about this a few times already but… that journey that we are on, you know, they do truly believe in me – the feedback that I give and the performances – so I enjoy working here.”

He further re-iterated the family-like nature of Williams, stating that it was “a nice place to be” and mentioning the positive reception to the announcement of his re-signing at the factory.

“It’s just a nice place to be. When we announced it, internally in the factory obviously, [there] was a lovely reception to the news. Yeah, it’s a family-based team, and you really get that feeling when you race here.”

Albon was also questioned on whether he believed that he could win with Williams. He admitted that it would take time, particularly with the dominance of Red Bull, and the current weaknesses of the William’s team.

“It will take time and I think there’s no secret [of] that, especially [with how dominant a team like Red Bull is where they don’t really have a weakness. At the moment, we have a few, and so, it’s going to take time to do that.”

He stated that, although he did not think a win was possible in the current and upcoming seasons, he did see the potential for long-term success and the re-establishment of Williams as a front-running team.

He could not say whether this success could occur while he was under contract with the team but added that that was another talking point and that he did hope that by 2026, the team would be off to a good start to achieving their desired success.

“In terms of immediate success, no. We have to kind of take realistic steps forward, but I do think [that] we’re running outside the box in terms of how we are going to establish ourselves as a front-running team.

“If my contract is long enough to get the success, let’s see, but of course, if I see [that] the direction, we’re going [in] is correct, that’s another talking point but… I even think next year might take a bit of time but by 2026, I think we’ll have all our kind of systems firing and it should be a good start.”

When asked whether he believed that 2026 would be a game changer, he said that realistically, he believed that the foundations of the team would need to be strong if the team was to have a good season.

He added that while he did not think that Williams had previously been in a position to be able to be strong enough to compete in 2026, new improvements within the team had allowed them to get “almost there” but added that the team would need to continue to strengthen itself over the remaining year and a half before the implementation of the new regulations.

He also spoke about the Mercedes power unit used by the Williams cars, stating that he hoped that it would be strong which would assist the team’s performance going into the new era.

“I believe so, but I believe that every team believes that. I think there’s no secret that everyone keeps talking about 2026 being a good chance. Realistically, my main feeling about 2026 is [that] the foundations of the team need to be strong to be able to have a good season.

“A couple of years ago, I don’t think that Williams were in that position to be able to be strong enough in 2026. We’re almost there but I think, you know, we’ve got a year and a half to get there before we can so…

“I think, truthfully as well, the Mercedes PU should be strong, I’m hoping, and that should help us. [It should] give us another year to get and understand the regulations and then…”

When asked about his teammate for the upcoming season, Albon stated that he would not be involved in the process.

“No, not my own, sorry!” [Laughs].