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Albon's extension "sped up" to take Williams F1 driver off the market

Williams “sped up” announcing Alex Albon’s Formula 1 contract extension to ensure he was off the market amid the fallout triggered by Sebastian Vettel’s retirement.

Nicholas Latifi, Williams Racing, Alex Albon, Williams Racing, on the drivers' parade

Nicholas Latifi, Williams Racing, Alex Albon, Williams Racing, on the drivers' parade

Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Albon will remain at Williams beyond the 2023 season on a multi-year deal, which was revealed two days after news broke of Fernando Alonso signing with Aston Martin, and a day after Oscar Piastri denied having a contract with Alpine for next season.

The Thai-Brit has confirmed his deal was more hastily made public to act as a clear ‘hands off’ given the question marks over seats at Alpine, McLaren, and Haas.

Asked by Autosport about the timing, Albon said: “That's probably the reason why it got sped up a little bit.

“Williams were the ones to give me the opportunity to get back into Formula 1. I have to say, I'm extremely thankful for that. I see a great future in front of Williams with the investment that's come in.

“It was great to be able to sign the contract and to get that stability. It enables us basically to work more towards the future of the car and think of plans not just for this year, but beyond into next year.”

Autosport understands that final conversations need to be held with Red Bull to iron out the details of their relationship, but that Albon is no longer part of its driver roster.

Having spent 2021 on the sidelines after being dropped by the championship leader, Albon was then effectively on loan to Williams.

He continued: “I still stay close with Red Bull just because of what they've helped me with.

“But let's say going into next year, then that's me on my own with my backpack. I'm a Williams driver by myself. It doesn't make sense to be on loan.”

Alex Albon, Williams FW44

Alex Albon, Williams FW44

Photo by: Williams

Albon enters the final nine races of the campaign with three points after a strong opening to the season - notably finishing 10th, 11th and ninth in the consecutive Australian, Emilia Romagna and Miami Grands Prix.

As a result, discussions about extending his Williams stay were initiated early.

Albon said: “It was quite a simple discussion. Already with Jost Capito [team boss] and the board, we were talking about the future pretty early after the first few races and things were already going well.”

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Albon, who was previously dropped by the Red Bull Junior programme and had to extricate himself from his contract with Nissan e.dams in Formula E to make his F1 debut, reckoned his multi-year deal with Williams meant he could now “tick off” having career stability.

“It's something which I don't think drivers have much luxury in it normally. I've never had stability; I've always been chasing and last year having a year away,” he said.

“It's really great to have that feeling where you can have that weight off your shoulders. It's something I can tick off the list and really settle down.”

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