Williams CEO and team principal Jost Capito has revealed how Alex Albon has provided a 'valuable surprise' to the team.
Albon signed with Williams to make his F1 comeback having been dropped from Red Bull's race seat at the end of 2020.
The Thai-British driver spent a year racing in the German DTM series in an AlphaTauri liveried Ferrari, as well as performing test and reserve duties for Red Bull and coaching then-rookie Yuki Tsunoda.
But upon his return, Albon has impressed by comprehensively outperforming team-mate Nicholas Latifi whilst also securing two points finishes despite the uncompetitive nature of the FW44 in what is a congested F1 midfield battle.
Albon's performances have earned him a new multi-year deal with the team and asked by GPFans before the deal if he had exceeded expectations during the first part of the season, Capito replied: "Yeah. I think it was clear that he's good, otherwise, he would never been in the Red Bull.
"He did very well beside Max [Verstappen] - you know how good Max is - he did very well, and the team is around Max, isn't it? It's very difficult for every second driver in Red Bull.
"We expected quite a lot of him. We believed if he gets to us, the team where he's loved, where he has a major role, then he can even excel and can even get better. I think that is exactly what happened."
Albon brings an added advantage
Albon's year in the Red Bull garage and at the factory base rather than on track meant that he was able to absorb information from a different aspect of a racing weekend.
Capito suggested this has given Albon an added advantage upon his return.
"What surprised me is that he has been not in the seat last year, but has been at most of the races, and has seen the dynamics of a team, how the driver influenced the engineers," said Capito.
"He's been with the engineers, sees how they apply the information of the driver, what normally a driver never gets.
"Maybe the disadvantage he had not being in the seat... the advantage, he had to understand how a team really works. That's really valuable."