Albon and De Vries to gain F1 seats from Russell’s Mercedes move, Giovinazzi loses out

2022 F1 season

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George Russell’s move to Mercedes next year is expected to be confirmed in the near future, triggering further developments in the F1 driver market for 2022.

Former Red Bull driver Alexander Albon and Formula E world champion Nyck de Vries are expected to join the grid next year as a result of Russell’s arrival at Mercedes.

Russell will replace Valtteri Bottas, who as RaceFans revealed previously is set to join Alfa Romeo. However the Swiss-run cars are expected to have two new occupants next year.

Kimi Raikkonen, the elder statesman of the F1 grid, will head for retirement after 19 years of competition in the sport’s top flight. In an unexpected development, his team mate Antonio Giovinazzi is also expected to be shown the door.

Giovinazzi’s replacement is understood to be Nyck de Vries, who clinched the Formula E title in Germany earlier this month. The arrival of the Mercedes-backed driver, who won the 2019 Formula 2 championship, will ensure the three-pointed star has another young racer on the F1 grid following Russell’s promotion. Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur has close ties to his opposite number at Mercedes, Toto Wolff.

Ferrari Driver Academy member Giovinazzi is expected to retain his links to the team. He has been tipped to become their third driver and take a role in its recently announced Le Mans Hypercar programme.

De Vries was previously tipped to take Russell’s empty seat at Williams. However RaceFans understands that seat will go to Albon, who missed out on a chance to return to F1 next year when the team extended Sergio Perez’s contract. Williams CEO Jost Capito has links to Red Bull from his time running Volkswagen’s World Rally Championship programme.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said last weekend Albon would continue his development role with their team unless they found a race seat on the F1 grid for 2022.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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111 comments on “Albon and De Vries to gain F1 seats from Russell’s Mercedes move, Giovinazzi loses out”

  1. Red Bull backed driver goes in a Mercedes customer seat. Mercedes backed driver goes into a Ferrari customer seat. So we can expect Illot / Shwartzman to replace Gasly / Tsunoda next :)

    1. This is not confirmed yet just expected…

      I already know Bottas will go to Alfa R but was expecting Nick de Vries to Williams. But i didn’t know about Albon at all.

      Still suprised with Albon.!

    2. @sumedh Good one.

  2. someone or something
    31st August 2021, 18:06

    Sauber fielding actual talent? What decade is it, the Nineties?

    1. someone or something
      31st August 2021, 18:08

      Oh wait, I read that wrong (=de Vries and Albon replacing Giovinazzi/Räikkönen) and forgot about Bottas.
      Still a big improvement.

      1. How come Albon is ‘actual talent’ but Bottas is ‘meh’?
        Last year they were in the two best cars and teammates to the two best drivers. Bottas pushed Hamilton relatively hard and finished second in the championship, while Albon never got close to Verstappen and was seventh in the championship behind three midfield drivers. Bottas is surely the greater prospect for next year. I agree that it is a massive improvement. Alfa Romeo almost certainly have a better car than Williams but are behind in the championship because of the drivers, in my opinion. Williams have a less strong 2022 lineup but Albon should do a lot better there than he seemed at Red Bull if Gasly’s career is anything to go by.

        1. Bottas did not push Hamilton at all. In a car a second ahead of everyone else, he managed two wins to Lewis’ 11…

          Let that sink in.

        2. Because Capito/Williams want a young driver on a long term contract. And one who has driven for a top team recently is a bonus. Word is Albon was on standby this weekend to race whilst Latifi was registering an inconclusive covid test.

          1. @ian dearing He was still with RBR in his reserve role, as was evident on world feed footage.

        3. “Word is Albon was on standby this weekend to race whilst Latifi was registering an inconclusive covid test.”

          That’s an interesting tidbit.

          @f1frog I think Albon maybe better than you think. The situation that Albon was thrown into was almost a no win situation for him. Albon finished the 2018 F2 world championships season with only 7 pts behind Lando, it was close. Russell finished 1st that year. Maybe Lando could have had the same or worse results as Albon in the RB? I think Albon should be given another chance in F1 and see how he does.

          I wouldn’t have be surprised if a good & respected F1 driver get the same results back then. I think RB has learned more about catapulting any driver into the seat set for Ver. style expecting to match or even get close to Verstappen. I believe Perez has benefitted from this, and he still hasn’t been able to match VER or come close but hopefully he will soon.

          1. I definitely think Albon is better than his results at Red Bull would suggest, and that he deserved another chance in F1, but I don’t think he is better than Bottas. He will do well with Williams next year, and will probably rebuild his career in a similar fashion to Gasly.

          2. If Albon didn’t have car issue at the last race in his F2 season, he could very well be the champion

      2. Bottas is “meh” for you while Albon is “talent”.
        Is it the same “they race me so hard” Albon you’re talking about? Bottas has at least won a few races, and given some early season competition to Lewis in all the years they’d been together. Albon was not even a good wing man. If you feel Albon is a better racer than Bottas, then I would say you dont know much about F1.

        1. We don’t know 100% if Albon is better than Bottas, but the same would have been said for Gasley when he drove for RB. In any case, Albon is young and is more likely to surpass Bottas due to his age.

    2. Lol.

      Ps. I accidentaly reported your statement, pushed the wrong button somehow, hope that doesn’t mess things up…

    3. Sauber gave Raikkonen, Massa, Kubica and Vettel their first F1 races in the 2000’s

    4. De vries does not deserve a seat, over hyped his whole career. Only big advantage is his stature.

      1. and how did you make that out? he was pretty decent in karting

        1. @alfa145 @peartree

          “he was pretty decent in karting”

          Yes he was, he won 3 Kart World Championships and later on, he then won the Formula Renault 2.0 championships before winning the F2 world championships.

          Certainly has the resume to given a chance in F1, its just a matter of how well he’ll do compared to the others.

        2. @redpill @alfa145 There are so many karting champions out there. Not like it would be unjust, look at Gasly, he shone early on in gp2 but then he was average and often beaten by younger drivers yet Pierre still ended up getting an f1 career.

          1. @peartree

            I think you need to check your memory as Gasly was the 2016 GP2 champion winner before going to F1.

          2. @peartree

            I think Gasly just again has proved you wrong; he’s proving more and more as a very good top 10 F1 driver despite what you think of him. Kind of hard to rip on a driver who qualified 4th overall today on a dry track and with a podium and top five and scoring in the top 10 in almost every race this season. He’s single handily beating Aston Martin and currently only 7 points behind Alpine this season while being ahead of both Alpine drivers in the WDC points.

            Just saying

            Also, maybe Nyck de Vries could also be good in F1, maybe not the best but so far he seems to have qualified himself to have a crack at it compared to other current drivers who have made it to F1 and show us what he can do and earn his place.

      2. Your kidding right he should have atleast 1 year to prove himself as he proven himself in many series and fought with George, Lando in F2 and did not bad in 4th position. and a year later he wins F2.
        I think he will do well.

        1. @macleod the problem with Nyck is that he always needed a lot of time in the Formula series to perform. All of his first seasons he underperformed, before rising up in his second season. Often, at that point he had more experience than his competitors, as his previous competitors had already moved on.

          I agree though that he deserves a chance in F1 more than all those pay drivers I have seen come and go during these past few years. I am curious to see how he will perform, IF rumours about Sauber are true.

          1. You can say the same for Mick Schumacher

      3. de Vries was brilliant in F2, so I don’t understand how you can feel that way?

  3. While George Russel to Mercedes is good news, Nick de Vries doesn’t excite me at all. There were other young guns waiting in the wings which are more promising, like Schwarzmann. Or Mich Schumacher to Alfa Romeo. We know as well that Alex Albon is not top man, though it will be interesting to see him and compare in the other team. Valteri Bottas, of course, deserves to remain in F1, but I expected him to return to Williams, especially as the renewed team looks promising and has better prospects than Alfa Romeo.

    1. Who knows what terms Alfa offered Bottas?
      Williams might not want old blood especially since you mentioned they are a renewed team.

    2. @osvaldas31

      I’m a little suspect about the info above in this article.

      Would agree with you about N. de Vries, the jury is still out and we’ll have to see. The 2019 season in F2 was not exactly the strongest line up with the top three F2 drivers leaving to F1 in ’18; remember that Latifi came in a solid 2nd place in the championships behind De Vries, Ghiotto came in 3rd; so the jury is still out.

      Glad to hear Albon maybe coming back in F1, he’s a nice guy and despite the RB ride not working out, I think Albon would be the better F1 driver, he already has F1 experience and finished third in the highly competitive ’18 F2 championships season with only 7 pts behind Lando. Russell won that year. So Williams would a Latifi-Albon line up.

      Strange to hear de Vries (Merc. team driver) going to Alfa Romero Ferrari backed team especially if Bottas was going there, I would have thought Schumacher or Ilott would have a better shot at it than two Merc. backed drivers? I know Ferrari no longer owns a seat at AF but two Mercedes backed drivers? That would be very surprising and not sure how Ferrari would feel about that when giving them PU’s, other parts and tech info (maybe now lack of ?). Could we be seeing a divorce and new PU’s coming Sauber’s way in the future?

      1. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
        31st August 2021, 20:18

        I don’t think De Vries is anywhere near championship level in F1, but he was pretty competative in 2018 too, in a considerably stronger field. He’ll be fine. Probably somewhat unspectacular, but he’ll be okay

        1. @justarandomdutchguy

          Agree that N. de Vries should be given a chance to see how he does, after all he did win the F2 World Championships like Russell, Gasly and Leclerc & also won FE championships (although not as flattering). Not sure how well he’ll do but he’s earned the chance.

    3. On the Marbles
      1st September 2021, 10:19

      So much has been made of Russell going to Mercedes, it would be deeply ironic if the massive rule changes to the formula leave Merc running midfield in 2022 and by some miracle Williams with their new funding and the big teams budgets curtailed have hit upon an aero interpretation that enables them to fight at the top (they’ve had long enough focusing on the 2022 regs while running the current dog of a car on minimal develpment)…. stranger things have happened! (not often).

  4. Dave (@davewillisporter)
    31st August 2021, 18:11

    de Vries to Alfa Romeo? Weird link-up. Mercedes money maybe? Merc do not have a replacement for George in the feed in system, maybe they are plugging a gap. Regardless, what has happened to the Ferrari seat? Surely they won’t give that up! I’m not sure of that one. What about Illot?
    Albon to Williams makes sense, George has a lot of influence and Albon is his bestie, he did not appreciate Redbull’s treatment of him.
    Regardless, I think all agree it’s George at Mercedes and 2022 looks good!

    1. @davewillisporter Alfa Romeo doesn’t have the Ferrari status driver requirement anymore, which means keeping Gio isn’t a must, and neither is having Ilott or Shwartzman, etc. In other words, they’re entirely free in driver choices.
      De Vries is merely a test/reserve driver rather than a Mercedes junior, so not the same thing.
      Since Alfa Romeo is entirely separate and uses a different PU, he, of course, would be 100% under contract.

      1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        31st August 2021, 18:24

        @jerejj missed that one. When did the Ferrari split happen and what were the circumstances? Any source you can point me to would be appreciated!

        1. RandomMallard (@)
          31st August 2021, 19:10

          @davewillisporter Here is an article. Not sure how reliable the website is though ;-)

          It doesn’t mention it directly in this article, but there have been rumours going around for a while that the new deal won’t include Ferrari’s dictation over the second seat. But technically, the Stellanis group Alfa is a part of is a separate legal entity to Ferrari, so that may be an explanation.

          1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            31st August 2021, 19:14

            @randommallard @ckyriazis2006 Thanks guys, much appreciated!

          2. @davewillisporter I was about to link the post + two others just in case, but unneeded since @ckyriazis2006 already linked the former.

      2. Ferrari seems to have their 2 seats settled for the next 4 or 5 years, and they are probably hoping that Mick Schumacher will drive for them in the future as well. So perhaps they don’t need another seat for a young driver now, as Ilott and Schwartzman will not be young anymore in a few years…

        1. This means Haas are where Ferrari will place their junior drivers?

          I’m pretty sure Albon was shown during the TV coverage on Sunday – significant if talks were taking place and/or finalised at Spa

          Interesting that Bottas and De Vries might end up at Alfa Romeo – one or both might have to break their strong links with Mercedes

          Let the silly season begin (albeit a bit later in the year than usual)

          1. @Simon
            1. Maybe
            2. Yes, he was seen in the Red Bull garage in his reserve role – possible, although the garage thing is quite irrelevant in this context
            3. The latter is merely a test/reserve driver, nothing deeper, and the former a regular driver, so an Alfa Romeo move would mean being 100% under contract there.

  5. Very surprising if these developments indeed are happening.
    I’ve been sure only one of De Vries/Albon duo would race in F1 next season, if either, and at Williams, but a direction change instead.
    This scenario would, of course, force Albon to cut his RB tie, as otherwise, Williams wouldn’t take him if he wasn’t 100% under contract. TBF, RB was only VW’s works rally team sponsor in 2015 & ’16 through Seb Ogier, an RB-sponsored athlete (+ Andreas Mikkelsen, another VW driver at the time). Nevertheless, some brand familiarity for Capito.

  6. I think Albon is the talent that will give Williams the points they need for 2022! Very excited to see what he can do there.

    1. I agree. Williams want somebody young, experienced, with a lot potential, who isn’t just on loan from Mercedes. As sad as I am to see Russell leave (and Latifi stay) I think Albon is our best option.

      1. @dot_com Albon is hardly an experienced F1 driver. By this argument, they should instead go for Kvyat unless he’s unwilling, which is possible. Not to mention Bottas, an experienced driver who presently races in F1, unlike the other two.

        1. @jerejj Albon has driven for Red Bull and Toro Rosso, and has been putting in a ton of hours this year in the Red Bull sim. His experience is therefore pretty current, and he brings a lot of knowledge from a top team. Compared to Kvyat, Hulk, De Vries, Albon is a great choice. I always felt like he had a lot of potential but was promoted way too early, into a situation where most would have failed. Bottas may have been the ‘better’ choice, but I imagine it either wasn’t an option for Williams, or they wanted someone younger that they can develop and nurture.

          1. @dot_com
            I meant actual racing experience. Driving a sim doesn’t count.
            Someone who has raced two seasons in F1 or any series doesn’t qualify as an experienced or veteran driver in that series.
            I’m sure Williams would 100% welcome Bottas back, so more likely, he prefers Alfa Romeo for any reason rather than Williams not wanting him.

          2. @jerejj I said experienced, not veteran. For me, at least, two seasons as a F1 driver followed by a year in the RB sim qualifies him as experienced. We could split hairs about that all day, if you like.

          3. @dot_com I guess your definition of experienced is different from everyone else if you include off-track stuff, but oh well, nothing wrong with this.

  7. I thought Ferrari paid for that 2nd Alfa seat?

    1. someone or something
      31st August 2021, 18:23

      The writing was on the wall that they’ve loosened their grip in that respect.

    2. Sauber’s new Alfa Romeo deal did away with Ferrari being able to choose a driver

    3. @Darran Not anymore.

  8. Not sure about DeVries as I think Ilot is in the frame for Alfa alongside Bottas. Experience and eagerness. DeVries is more likely to Williams who say, by the way, they don’t need pay drivers any more.

    I understand why Bottas wouldn’t want to go back to Williams just yet, and Ilot is a Ferrari academy driver.

    Mercedes have other refugee drivers form FE in their pack they need to think of such as Vandoorne who, like DeVries, is already a reserve driver for Merc.

    I suspect it is some of these ‘down stream’ issues that is holding up Wolff’s announcement.

    I’ll still go with DeVries to Williams and Ilot to Alfa alongside Bottas. The other seat in the Williams might be Albon if there is sufficient motivation (and it won’t be money per se).

    Chance of me being correct? About 10% on past records.

    1. I believe it has been confirmed that Latifi has signed on to drive another year at Williams.

      1. Read elsewhere that DeVries is the third driver at Williams with Latifi keeping his place in 22, and then replacing Latifi in 23

      2. @redpill Only a strong hint by Capito, not yet formal.

      3. I’ve been looking for a long time but haven’t seen confirmation anywhere. I think his original deal was for 3 years, so he should be safe – but that agreement was made pre-Dorilton, so there may be some exploitable loophole. I’m sure his ‘contribution’ to the team will keep him at Williams at least for ‘22.

  9. Didn’t really expect this outcome regarding Alfa Romeo’s lineup. For whatever reason, I couldn’t Imagine De Vries at Alfa but I guess I’ll have to get used to it :)

    To be frank,i expected Alfa to risk with an early promotion to Pourchaire instead of getting De Vries, but that’s why F1’s silly season is that good!

  10. So…
    Lewis Hamilton
    George Russell

    Red Bull
    Max Verstappen
    Sergio Perez

    Lando Norris
    Daniel Ricciardo

    Charles Leclerc
    Carlos Sainz

    Fernando Alonso
    Esteban Ocon

    Alpha Tauri
    Pierre Gasly
    Yuki Tsunoda

    Aston Martin
    Sebastian Vettel
    Lance Stroll

    Alexander Albon
    Nicholas Latifi

    Alfa Romeo
    Valtteri Bottas
    Nyck De Vries

    Mick Schumacher
    Nikita Mazepin

    Very pleased with this lineup for next year, although strange it’s been sorted out so early.