“So actually my attitude has more so been to help Checo out and give him my experience and my knowledge about the car to help him progress. Yeah, I think it was no secret that it wasn’t easy last year. I think we have made the car better. But it still can be tricky for Checo at times.”
So could he have done a better job with the 2021 version, having worked so hard to improve it back in the factory?
“Obviously very hard to say. But I think the guys have clearly improved it, let’s say relatively speaking. We’re more competitive this year than last year. I think that would just naturally improve my performance.
“But as I said, there are things coming from last year that I feel like I’ve learned. You spend this year thinking, ‘I wish I knew this, I wish I did this differently.’ It’s a time to reflect and a time to learn from the last two years.
“It was almost like wanting that chance to be able to have another shot at F1, and apply those lessons, which I’ve been very thankful to have.”
It was only in the last few weeks that Albon’s name began to emerge in connection with the Williams and Alfa Romeo seats. Prior to that he was thinking about a future elsewhere, and specifically in IndyCar.
“Yes, I did. I mean, you have to as well. For me, Formula E was also in consideration. Because you can plan as much as you want F1, but if it doesn’t happen, then you would have nothing. And you can’t play that game where it’s all or nothing. So I had to think about a plan B route.
“And those two came to mind. IndyCar at the time attracted me more so than Formula E. I went to Indianapolis to watch the racing and I liked it, and obviously I had a chat with Romain [Grosjean] as well about it.
“And it looked exciting, but my priority was always F1. And the other thing about that is that F1 can wait, because the decisions happen quite late compared to other series, so it was kind of a quite tricky balance to have where you’re trying to keep options open whilst the F1 seats and the musical chairs was still happening.”
Gradually things fell into place, and Williams rather than Alfa Romeo became the primary focus.
“Other names were being mentioned. Of course, things moved quickly. And it was most probably especially true when the news said there was those chances where George was moving to Mercedes, and Valtteri moving to Alfa, and things picked up pretty quickly.
“There were obviously earlier discussions being had with Jost and with Williams. And it just came to be, obviously with a lot of help from Christian and Dr Marko as well.
“Looking at Williams, I would say that the first thing was that they look like they’re on the up, they obviously got the investment coming in. I also had the chance to visit the team, and they all seemed very positive, optimistic, they are very keen to talk to me and to get involved. And it seemed like a great choice to get back onto the grid.”
It didn’t hurt that Albon had Russell batting for him.