F1 Teammate Tale of the Tape - Latifi vs Albon - Williams Racing
A new driver lineup at Williams to usher in the new era of F1, but can this duo take Williams to the top?
Williams Racing debuted their 2022 challenger recently as they hope to make their way back to F1's upper echelon of competition. With the new FW44 already hitting the track in Silverstone and a new driver at the team, Williams are hoping that their worst days are behind them with this new era of Formula 1 beginning in 2022. A key aspect to the team's success will be its two drivers, Nicholas Latifi and Alex Albon. With George Russell being promoted to Mercedes, Williams will welcome in Albon to fill the void of their promising young star. Along with Alfa Romeo and Mercedes, Williams will have a new teammate duo for 2022 and we're here to break down the numbers between the two drivers and how they stack up against each other. We'll be doing a teammate breakdown for all the new lineups this season so bookmark our website www.tbmf1show.com so you don't miss the next breakdown in this series!
Tale of the Tape - Latifi vs Albon
Courtesy - WilliamsF1Media
An immediate advantage for Williams is the fact that these two drivers know each other very well. The two were teammates at DAMS racing in F2 for the 2018 season. That year DAMS finished 3rd in the Constructor's championship with Albon securing 4 victories and Latifi with one. Both were promoted to F1 shortly after their partnership at DAMS with Albon debuting in 2019 while Latifi made his debut in 2020. Let's take a look at the career numbers between the two and how they stack up against each other.
In terms of age and grand prix starts, both drivers are nearly identical with Latifi starting one more Grand Prix than Albon. In terms of their best finishes and results, these are slightly skewed numbers based on the fact that Albon drove for two strong teams with much better machinery than Latifi has had in his two seasons of F1. One stat that is sure to change between these two are their head to head records vs their teammates. Both had the difficult task of trying to beat their teammate with Latifi battling young superstar George Russell, and Albon trying to keep up with the eventual World Champion Max Verstappen. Albon does bring 2 podiums to the team from his Red Bull days so Williams are getting a high quality driver in place of Russell. Although this is a relatively young lineup, it isn't short on F1 experience however but both drivers do lack the experience of driving different types of F1 cars that might help them adapt easier to the 2022 rules. Now that you've seen the two drivers head to head, let's break down each driver individually and what to expect from them in 2022.
#6 - Nicholas Latifi
Courtesy - WilliamsF1Media
Coming off his strongest season of F1 yet, Canadian Nicholas Latifi is poised to take the reigns at Williams Racing and prove that he's the driver to build around for the future. He is now the senior driver at the team and the engineers will be looking toward his experience and familiarity with Williams to help develop the team forward. It's somewhat of a fresh start for Latifi who has been in the shadows of George Russell these past two years but he's more than ready to take on the 2022 challenge.
Latifi was able to score his first Formula 1 points last season with a strong P7 drive in Hungary and it was the culmination of a lot of progress from his rookie season. His race craft has shown to be one of his best qualities with an average finish of 15th and fast starter on the opening lap of the race. His qualifying pace has been lacking at Williams with an average start of 17th but 2021 showed spots of qualifying improvement that he can build on this season. It took Latifi until the late stages of 2021 to finally out-qualify Russell but he did it twice in the last four races by besting his teammate in Brazil and Abu Dhabi. He'll have another strong teammate with good qualifying pace to deal with this season but Latifi should have the tools to make this battle closer than he did with Russell. Latifi is a driver that entered the sport with the 'pay driver' label on his name. Since then, he's proved his worth in the sport through hard work and a humble attitude that's made him a fan favorite amongst most...although a certain fanbase would probably disagree with this. 2022 could be a make or break year for Latifi as beating Albon over a season would cement his long term future at the team but if he doesn't, Williams might look to other talents to try and take them back to the top of Formula 1.
#23 - Alex Albon
Courtesy - WilliamsF1Media
It's not often you get a second chance in Formula 1 after taking a year off on the sidelines. Drivers in the past such as Esteban Ocon have shown that not only can you make a return to F1, but you can also do better than your first time around. The lifelong Red Bull academy driver was released from his duties late last year in order to transition to the Mercedes powered Williams team for 2022. After a half season with Toro Rosso and a full year with Red Bull, Albon's best championship finish has been 7th with two podium finishes in 2020. He's qualified on average in 8th place having reached Q3 in 23 out of 38 appearances in his career. Albon particularly struggled with race pace in his Red Bull career as his average finishing position is 9th. Albon also has an 0-2 record vs his F1 teammates but keep in mind he did have to go up against Max Verstappen at that time. Let's hear what the 25 year old has to say about his debut season with Williams.
Although Albon spent a year away from F1, he did still compete in 14 DTM races in 2021, scoring one victory and four podium finishes. In addition to that, Albon was very involved with Red Bull's championship charge last season helping with simulator work and doing a lot behind the scenes to help the team. Hopefully that will help him get up to speed quicker but a lot of these drivers are in the same boat with the brand new style of cars. Albon has a new opportunity at Williams after his Red Bull career didn't pan out the way he would have liked. He's a very quick driver with loads of potential so hopefully the environment at Williams will be able to get the best out of Alex Albon for 2022.
What to Expect From Williams in 2022
Courtesy - WilliamsF1Media
It's difficult to make predictions for 2022 as we really don't know which teams have aced the new regulations. It's hard to imagine Williams will come out with another Brawn style machine and dominate half the grid so let's temper our expectations for them. The launch of their new FW44 didn't exactly fill everyone with confidence as many noticed a lack of sponsors on the car and also an electrical issue forced a delay in the car actually getting out on track. But regardless, they became the 3rd team to run their car in these early stages of the pre-season which is a positive sign. They finished 2021 8th in the Constructor's standings with 23 points and a podium finish which was a stellar result considering their last few seasons. With this driver lineup, they can aim for good results in 2022 but that will all be dependent on the technical and engineering personnel at Williams and whether they've produced a good car. The duo of
Latifi and Albon will bring a good balance to the team and it's crucial that they already have a good relationship prior to hitting the track. "I’ve known Nicky for a while, even before we became teammates in 2018. He’s not only a super nice guy, but a very quick racer and we pushed each other hard in F2, so it’s nice to be joining him again" - Alex Albon
If you're a Williams fan, you're cautiously optimistic about 2022 as it is a totally fresh start for a team who's struggled in the last 4 seasons. With two young drivers leading the way, it will be interesting to revisit this teammate battle during the summer break to see which driver is besting the other. Will it be Albon's raw pace that will get the better of Latifi or will it be the Canadian's experience at Williams that sees him prevail? Let us know what you think of this lineup at Williams and what your expectations are for the team in 2022. Coming up next in this series will be a look at the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Russell which will be coming out next week.