2022 F1 driver rankings #13: Albon · RaceFans

When Crimson Bull took the tough choice to drop Alexander Albon from their senior workforce on the finish of 2020 in favour of veteran Sergio Perez, they labored onerous to make sure that they discovered him a race seat the place he might return to Components 1 for 2022.

With George Russell departing Williams to fulfil his future at Mercedes, Crimson Bull provided Albon’s providers to the workforce. A younger driver who had proven real potential with a number of seasons of expertise with a race-winning workforce, Albon was an excellent candidate to switch Russell and assist lead the lowly Williams into a brand new period alongside Nicholas Latifi.

By the tip of the season, Albon had secured himself a multi-year contract extension after successful the respect and belief of his model new workforce. However whereas he had put in a few of the most memorable and spectacular performances of any driver within the decrease half of the sphere all year long, he additionally confirmed that he’s removed from the completed article within the cockpit.

Alexander Albon, Williams, Albert Park, 2022
Albon produced one of many drives of the season in Melbourne

Albon returned to Components 1 with such knowledgeable efficiency in Bahrain, it was as if he hadn’t spent a yr away in any respect. He took the unremarkable Williams into Q2 on the first try, earlier than ending a decent thirteenth. However the actuality of racing for Williams hit tougher in Jeddah, when he ran in the direction of the again of the sphere in his uncompetitive automotive after which punted Lance Stroll within the closing laps, being handed a three-place grip drop for Melbourne regardless of protesting his innocence.

Throughout his 2020 season at Crimson Bull, Albon confronted legitimate criticism for his lack of ability to beat adversity and exhibiting a scarcity of struggle on monitor. However Melbourne proved that he was now a special, higher driver. Ranging from the very again of the sphere on onerous tyres, he executed arguably essentially the most formidable technique of the whole season, operating all 57 laps of the race he was allowed on his preliminary set of tyres earlier than pitting on the ultimate lap, rising simply metres forward of Zhou Guanyu and taking an impressive tenth place end to safe Williams’ first level of the season.

He adopted this distinctive drive with one other high quality efficiency in Imola. After his brakes exploded in Friday qualifying, he lined up 18th on the grand prix grid. Working behind Pierre Gasly for the primary a part of the race earlier than overtaking him with out DRS, Albon moved as much as as excessive as twelfth within the latter a part of the race, gaining a bonus place when Esteban Ocon’s post-race penalty was utilized, to be categorised simply out of the factors in eleventh.

Advert | Turn out to be a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Albon was starting to achieve a fame for placing his Williams up into positions it in all probability didn’t should be in. That notion was inflated even additional when he managed to attain two extra factors in Miami. Admittedly, he benefitted from a good quantity of luck, because of a well-timed Security Automotive gaining him two locations totally free when Sebastian Vettel and Mick Schumacher collided, earlier than being gifted a 3rd when Fernando Alonso was penalised after the race.

Alex Albon, Williams, Monaco, 2022
He made a number of errors in Monaco

However after a really sturdy begin to the yr, his subsequent two weekends might solely be described as poor. In Spain, he sustained flooring harm from hitting a kerb following his first pit cease, which noticed him plummet to the very again of the sphere, far behind different drivers after which picked up a penalty for exceeding monitor limits 4 occasions. However his race at Monaco was worse. An honest qualifying effort to line up sixteenth was made higher by gaining three positions within the early lap, however he ran off the circuit at Sainte Dedicate, having to spin-turn again onto the monitor and dropping all three locations. Then, he repeated the error, dropping extra time, earlier than clipping the barrier attempting to go Zhou Guanyu at Rascasse, struggling the harm that ended his race.

He shook off his poor double-header and obtained again to enterprise. Nevertheless, unforced errors apart, Albon was changing into hamstrung by Williams’ lack of upgrades relative to their rivals. That modified at Silverstone when he was given the posh of the workforce’s first upgrades of the season, however a irritating qualifying technique left him eradicated from Q1, whereas Latifi guided the older automotive via to Q3 for the very first time. Within the race, Albon was the harmless sufferer of a secondary crash triggered by Zhou’s appalling accident, sending him onerous into the unprotected pit lane wall. Albon was taken to hospital for precautionary checks however was later launched, his alternative to assemble information on the workforce’s upgrades vanished.

Whereas ‘spec II’ of the FW44 was an enchancment, it was not a significant one. It took till after the summer season break for Albon to be within the struggle for factors once more. Benefiting from his low-drag automotive, Albon squeezed into Q3 for the primary time all season, securing ninth on the grid. Within the race, he confronted near-constant stress, main a parade of annoyed, seemingly quicker vehicles via the Belgian countryside for a big a part of the race. He stored his cool and led his pursuers residence in tenth, his third and ultimate factors end of the season.

Advert | Turn out to be a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

One other first rate exhibiting in Zandvoort yielded no factors, however he knew his greatest alternative of the season awaited him on the subsequent spherical on the lengthy straights of Monza. Unluckily, he got here down with appendicitis after Friday apply, and would by no means get to race. Nevertheless, alternative Nyck de Vries’ wonderful debut drive to ninth counsel this was not less than what Albon would have been able to.

Albon later admitted he was by no means at “one hundred pc” bodily for the remainder of the season. His return race in Singapore was one among his worst, crashing out within the blended circumstances via an unforced error which marked the low level of the second half of his season. Then, in Japan, he clashed with Kevin Magnussen within the spray, damaging his radiator and placing an finish to his race on a day when Latifi delivered the workforce’s ultimate factors rating of the yr.

Alex Albon, Williams, Suzuka, 2022
Albon was assured he had maximised his alternatives for factors

He continued to flirt with the minor factors locations within the USA and Mexico, ending forward of a number of vehicles that ought to have been forward of his. However by this stage within the season there was little he might do to struggle for factors apart from hope for some sudden chaos to current a chance.

Because the season got here to an finish, Albon seemed again satisfied in his personal thoughts that he was capable of rating factors each time he’d had a sensible alternative to. He’d obliterated his workforce mate over the season – however that workforce mate simply occurred to be RaceFans’ lowest-ranked driver of the season. He had put in some excellent drives, however his worst had additionally been among the many most conspicuous lows of any driver.

Heading into 2023 with a brand new workforce principal and a brand new driver, Williams will take consolation in realizing they’ve Albon to guide them via their transition. By ironing out some minor kinks, he might function a lot greater up this listing subsequent season.

Advert | Turn out to be a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2022 F1 season evaluation

Browse all 2022 F1 season evaluation articles

Leave a Comment