Alex Albon exclusive: I can fight for F1 world championship at Williams

Alex Albon discussed his new Williams deal, Mercedes and Monaco with Total-Motorsport.com

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The 2024 Monaco Grand Prix was a big weekend for home success, headlined by Charles Leclerc and the newly adopted Oscar Piastri.

But that wasn’t all – Mercedes recorded their highest-scoring race of the year in the principality that both drivers call home, and it was a milestone afternoon for Alex Albon as he scored Williams‘ first points of the Formula 1 season.

Albon picked the perfect time to make his maiden Q3 appearance of 2024 and the Monte Carlo resident held off Pierre Gasly to secure ninth place and fire Williams above Alpine in the constructors’ championship before the shortest of commutes home.

And as he explained when sitting down with Total-Motorsport.com ahead of the Monaco weekend, the life of an F1 driver means home comforts are somewhat of a rarity.

“Today is like my 19th day in Monaco this year,” Albon said. “To stay home is actually a lovely luxury to have, it’s nice to be able to sleep in your own bed, make your own breakfast and just take it nice and slow so it’s good.

“Especially between Imola and Monaco, it was already quite a short trip to Monaco itself so I’ve been here since Sunday evening and going to my normal gym, being able to train properly Monday-Wednesday has been nice.”

Albon backs Williams to return to the top

Alex Albon commits to Williams by signing multi-year deal | Williams F1 Team
Alex Albon commits to Williams by signing a multi-year deal | Williams F1 Team

Monaco was as good a time as any to produce a season-best performance too, after an Emilia Romagna GP weekend that started with an electrical issue cutting FP1 short and ended with retirement from a race that had already been scuppered on lap 9 by an error in the pitlane.

But though there was a night and day difference between the two races just seven days apart, the reality was only two points separated the weekends – relative small fry for a team that’s scored 3,622 in a history that also counts 16 world championships and 113 grand prix victories.

While only one of those tallies is likely to change in 2024, the hope is that in future Williams can expect to return two trophies from a successful weekend rather than two points.

James Vowles has been vocal about the reality of growing pains for Williams but continues to re-iterate that it will be worth it, and Albon‘s new contract shows the boss has buy-in from the most important places:

“I think James summed it up pretty well, if you’re trying to plan long-term and foundational changes within a team it’s going to take time so you can’t truthfully expect short-term solutions at the same time.

“I think when James joined there were more short-term things, but now realistically it’s going to be longer-term, that’s also reflected in my contract.

“I know that this year is not going to be easy for us, I know next year is going to be a step better but it’s not going to be the silver bullet and then when the regulation changes, that’s really when you get the fruits of your hard work.”

It’s an extraordinarily measured approach from a driver who believes he’s in his prime and ready to fight for the biggest prizes.

Albon raised eyebrows in the offseason when he made that declaration on the High Performance Podcast, adding he felt he’d paid back the loyalty Williams showed by offering him a route back into F1 after spending 2021 on the sidelines.

It seemed a hint that Albon could be seeking a move away from Grove, but now he’s committed his long-term future there, does he think he can challenge for race wins and world championships at Williams?

“I can. Realistically let’s look at our next big goal, which is to be scoring regular points, I think we can start achieving that next year. And then my next big thing would be to score a podium and then eventually a win.

“But that realistically would be further down the line unless you have a crazy race coming up, I’m not expecting huge changes in the short term, it’s going to take some time.”

So when did Albon decide on Williams? “There were a few options on the table to choose where I wanted to be. When it came down to it, it just felt like the Williams route was firstly the one I know – I’ve been here a few years now – but also the one I believe in.

“The driver market is moving every week, it was moving every week when I signed my Williams deal. The more the year went on, it’s just one of those tricky situations, but the more that I believed in the team, in the project and the journey, and James was always reminding me of where we’re at so it kind of led to this natural decision.”

Albon felt draw of Mercedes with Williams

Alex Albon in the paddock at the 2023 British GP | Williams F1 Team

As effusive as Albon is about the impact of Vowles and his changes behind the scenes, there’s another more obvious carrot that Williams can offer in 2026: a Mercedes power unit.

That engine has already been central to the high-profile contract saga over Max Verstappen as the biggest asset attracting the Dutchman to potentially join the Silver Arrows, and Albon confirmed it was a factor in his decision too:

“For sure it is, I think Mercedes time and time again, when it comes to these regulation changes, they seem to be one step ahead of their rivals – not to say I don’t think other teams will do a good job.

“But I think it’s at least a safe bet. When you look at maybe the other midfield teams who are bringing in a new PU I’m sure they’re going to put in a lot of money to hit the ground running.

“At the same time, I think I’m hoping that even in 2026 if we’re still in our building phase – obviously, I want to hit that year on top form, but if it’s not there quite yet we’ll still have a very strong power unit to go alongside us.”

There’s a precedent for Williams succeeding after they and Mercedes nailed a regulation change – they scored 577 points, 13 podiums, and back-to-back third places in the constructors’ championship in 2014 and 2015.

It may have taken a decade, but the combination of Albon, Vowles and Mercedes power means returning or even surpassing those halcyon days could finally be on the cards.

Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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