Written by Olivia Eyeson, Edited by Ishani Aziz
Last season, Williams achieved their first points since Robert Kubica at the 2019 German Grand Prix. This was a major achievement for the team and pointed towards a newly motivated force. This morale carried through the season as the British outfit finished in eighth place with 23 points in the constructors' championship, placing them at the fore of the backmarkers and raising expectations for the forthcoming season.
Going into the 2022 season, with considerable regulation changes and the loss of George Russell to Mercedes, Williams had the opportunity to greatly improve, or fall back down the grid. The driver pairing of Alex Albon, with experience at a top team in F1 and plenty of good performances under his belt, and Nicholas Latifi, entering his third season with the team, seemed stable. With the retention of Jost Capito, who had drawn some impressive results from Williams, as Team Principal they seemed to be in a good position to fight in the midfield.
Nevertheless, when the season began it became apparent that Latifi’s mistakes were losing the team crucial points, though Albon was consistently close to the point-scoring positions. Additionally, the team compiled a total of 34 Q1 exits, the most of any team, and only had two Q3 appearances at Spa and Silverstone.
Though the team finished at the bottom of the standings this season and therefore underachieved on expectations, their performances still improved. Albon was constantly amongst the midfield, and William finished the season with five-point finishes, compared to just four last season. Our Dive Bomb team have weighed in on the William’s driver’s and their contributions to the team whose fate seems to be dwindling.
Olivia - Alex Albon
Albon sat the 2021 season out after being dropped by Red Bull, so his move to Williams came with a lot of expectation. Would he live up to the standard that golden boy George Russell had set?
He immediately impressed with a P10 at Albert Park and a P9 at Miami, alongside other strong results such as a P11 finish at Emilia Romagna. The Thai driver made just one Q3 session in Belgium but also appeared in eight Q2 sessions, leading him to beat his teammate Latifi 18 to two in qualifying head-to-head.
Albon was responsible for the majority of Williams point scoring finishes, however, due to how bad the car was he only finished P19 in the championship with four points. There was a possibility for more outstanding performances, but it seemed that after his appendicitis during the Monza Grand Prix weekend, the results never returned in full swing.
Nevertheless, it was a strong season for Alex Albon reaffirming that he deserves a spot on the F1 grid.
Top Race: Spa, where he converted a stellar performance of P9 in qualifying into a P10 in the race.
During the 2021 season, Latifi showed improvements by scoring points back to back at Germany and Belgium, so there was an expectation that this trend would continue through to 2022.
However, he didn't fulfil these expectations, as he was immediately beaten by his teammate (who had just completed a year outside the sport). In terms of results, he was usually around 15-18th place, though his teammate was always near the point-scoring positions.
Additionally, he was involved in numerous crashes and mistakes caused by himself, including taking the wrong turn during a free practice session at Suzuka. This didn’t help his image as a ‘pay driver’ and certainly didn’t encourage Williams to renew his contract.
The worst point of the year for Latifi had to be Monza. Failing against Albon, though unimpressive, wasn’t too surprising as the Thai driver had raced at a top team before. Yet, at the Italian Grand Prix, he was beaten by Nyck de Vries, who sat in for a sick Albon. De Vries had never driven in F1 before, had only received the news that he’d be driving for Williams recently, and still managed to score points on his debut.
This put Latifi in a poor light, not warranting him a contract extension after three seasons at the British team.
Apostolos - Alex Albon
Having suffered a difficult 2020, where he was comprehensively outperformed by teammate Max Verstappen, Alex Albon was forced to spend 2021 on the sidelines before sealing a deal with the troubled Williams team for 2022, while still keeping ties with Red Bull. No substantial expectations were placed by the team on Albon’s shoulders, with the FW44 evidently being relatively weak in the midfield. Nevertheless, the Thai driver defied the odds in Australia, pulling off that impressive 57-lap stint on hard tyres, then pitting on the final lap to come home in an impressive 10th place. Another quiet drive in Miami handed him and the team two more precious points and finally, Albon made good use of the Williams’ top speed to come home in 10th in Belgium, having started an impressive ninth. A final points opportunity was lost when he had to pull out of the Italian Grand Prix with appendicitis. The rest of the season was spent mostly in the top 15 and generally ahead of teammate Nicholas Latifi, whom he out-qualified in all but two races.
Of course, he wasn’t faultless, crashing with Lance Stroll in Saudi Arabia and putting it into the wall in SIngapore. Also, it can be argued that, while his performances were very solid, they didn’t reach the heights of his predecessor and good friend, George Russell. But overall, Alex Albon certainly made a very memorable return to the sport, showing why he deserves the multi-year contract he signed with Williams.
Best race: Australia. Taking full advantage of the ensuing carnage, he made the tyres last before holding off the faster Alfa Romeo of Zhou to come home in an unlikely 10th.
Coming into his third year (and what would turn out to be his last year in the sport), Nicholas Latifi was labelled as little more than a below average pay driver, who however had managed to show flashes of speed that turned heads, along with a couple of points finishes. Sadly, 2022 served as a hard reality check for the Canadian, who spent most of the year getting knocked out in Q1, finishing right at the back and most unfortunately crashing quite often. This was particularly true in Saudi Arabia, where Latifi found the wall twice in two consecutives days. Despite this, there were two highlights this year, both surprisingly in wet conditions. The first was in qualifying for the British GP, where Latifi managed to get into the top 10 and out-qualify his teammate, while also having the old spec car. The second was in Japan, where a faultless drive and the right strategy yielded ninth place, his only points finish of the year.
Still, with only five further top 15 finishes, in Miami, Monaco, Baku, Britain and Italy, where he was beaten by stand in Nyck De Vries, as well as being the furthest of the pace from his teammate out of all 20 regular drivers, it is no wonder Williams decided enough was enough and didn’t renew his contract for 2023.
Best race: Japan. Perfectly executed the strategy and faultlessly came home in ninth place, his one and only points finish of the year and the team’s most recent.
Vyas - Alex Albon
Following a tough 2020 season, one that saw Albon struggle to score big points consistently for Red Bull, he was dropped by the team in favour of Sergio Perez. A year on the sidelines, working as a simulator driver, gave the Thai-Brit a chance to rejuvenate himself, and evaluate his options further. Finally, Albon signed a deal with Williams, his case helped even further by a recommendation from his good friend George Russell.
Even before the season started, Albon knew his targets, and what the team would expect of him during the season. Outside the pressure-cooker environment of his former team, Red Bull, Albon thrived, and gave us a glimpse of his talent. While four points may not echo a resounding comeback season, we must take into account that Williams were mostly towards the rear of the field in 2022. Albon made seven Q2 appearances and made it through to Q3 at the Belgian GP, also outqualifying his teammate Nicholas Latifi in all but two race weekends. His first points finish came at Australia, after a mammoth 57-lap stint on hard tyres saw him pitting and rejoining in tenth on the last lap, where he would finish. A ninth place followed later at Miami, before another tenth at the aforementioned Belgian Grand Prix. He had to pull out of the Italian GP due to appendicitis, after which his results tailed off.
Although he wasn’t immune to the odd incident, with race ending incidents in Saudi Arabia, Silverstone, and Singapore, Albon showed us why he deserves a spot in Formula One, and why Williams gave him a multi-year contract.
Driver Rating - 8/10
Best Race - Australian GP - Starting last following a disqualification from qualifying, Albon and Williams went for a bold strategy, managing his famous 57 laps, before pitting on the final lap, bringing home a point for his tenth place finish.
Following the departure of his teammate for two seasons, and friend George Russell, the onus was on Nicholas Latifi to step up his game, with the arrival of a new teammate in Albon. Although, the exact opposite was what occurred in 2022. Latifi was outqualified by his new teammate Albon 19 times in 21 races, and even by his stand-in teammate Nyck De Vries at the Italian Grand Prix. He brought up the rear in qualifying in ten races across the season, and was consistently outraced by his new teammate Albon. The only positives from his season were a Q3 appearance in a sodden qualifying session at Silverstone, the only race when he didn’t get knocked out in Q1, and a ninth place at another wet race in Japan.
Latifi has proved himself fairly incident prone, with crashes in Saudi Arabia, Monaco, Singapore, France, and Abu Dhabi. He has been outperformed consistently by his teammate across the season. Wisely, Williams decided it was time and bit the bullet, in favour of a strongly performing F2 rookie, Logan Sargeant.
Driver Rating - 3.5/10
Best Race - His drive in Japan was undoubtedly the highlight of a tough season. Starting last for the race, Williams brought him in for an early stop onto intermediate tyres, which elevated Latifi into the points, before the Canadian brought home his only points of the season in ninth, by the chequered flag.
Dan - Alex Albon
Albon returned to the Formula One Grid in 2022 after his underwhelming year-and-a-half at Red Bull, but was provided an F1 lifeline with Williams for 2022. I said in my pre-season predictions that I’d expect Albon to disappoint again in 2022, however, I was proved very wrong as the Thai-Brit driver looked immediately comfortable in the FW44, and impressed right from the start of the season, as Albon thrived in a Williams that would struggle throughout the season. He looked like he had never left the F1 midfield from the off, battling with the Aston Martin’s at the beginning of the season, although Williams’ lack of upgrades, and his appendicitis issues prevented point scoring opportunities late in the season. His three points finishes in Australia, Miami and Spa were all very impressive drives, particularly his hard tyre stint on the streets of Albert Park to claim an extremely unlikely P10. Although he had his moments, Albon proved why he should very much remain on the F1 grid, comprehensively beating teammate, Nicholas Latifi, and will have an even bigger role in 2023, as he acts as team leader to rookie teammate, Logan Sargeant.
Best Race: His performance in Australia will live long in the memory, as he perfectly executed Williams’ audacious strategy to pick up an unlikely, but very much deserved point.
Nicholas Latifi showed many signs of improvement in 2021, as he claimed a couple of points finishes, and would be able to challenge future Mercedes driver, George Russell, on a couple of occasions towards seasons-end. With the 2022 regulations coming in, with everyone starting afresh, as well as acting as team leader with the arrival of Alex Albon, I was optimistic about Latifi’s chances in 2022. However, his start to the season was a mess, with crash-filled weekends, particularly in Saudi Arabia, with the Canadian regularly finding himself P20 on the grid, and last at the flag, as he struggled, while Albon excelled. With a 2023 seat looking unlikely toward the mid-season, the final nail in the coffin would be Nyck de Vries’ star performance in Monza, where he outqualified Latifi, and claimed points, something Latifi had not claimed up to that point. His form would not pick up for the remainder of the season, as he was unsurprisingly replaced by academy graduate, Logan Sargeant for 2023, a replacement that no-one, including Latifi himself could really argue with. Bizarrely, Latifi would have a few highs in his final F1 season, including a Q3 appearance at Silverstone, topping FP3 in Hungary and claiming a P9 in Japan, but does not hide what has been a dismal season.
Best Race: Japan - Drove well beyond his usual capabilities in very tricky conditions, to claim an excellent P9 finish in what would be his final F1 points finish.