Alex Albon has won a Formula One lifeline and will join Williams in 2022.

The former Red Bull star is bouncing back from a year where his only racing was in the German touring car championship, and after widespread speculation that his future was in IndyCar single seaters.

But the promotion of George Russell to Mercedes-AMG has opened a slot and, perhaps surprisingly, Red Bull is taking much of the credit for his grand prix comeback.

“We rate Alex very highly and with our line-up for 2022 fixed, our objective was to help find him a seat in another team where he could gain more F1 mileage and experience and we are delighted to have done that with Williams Racing,” says Christian Horner, CEO of Red Bull Racing.

“For his career it was important not to spend another season out of an F1 race seat. With his place on the grid next year secured, we are delighted to see him realise this opportunity and we will be following his progress closely.”

The Thai national, despite speaking with a British accent, has been Red Bull’s reserve driver this year and has spent a lot of time in the team’s F1 simulator, so perhaps he is being ‘warehoused’ for some future role in the Bulls program. But there is no real detail as Albon celebrates his return to F1 racing.

“When you take a year out of F1 it’s never certain you will make a return so I’m extremely thankful to Red Bull and Williams for believing in me and helping me on my journey back to the grid,” says Albon.

And then he talks about his hopes for 2022, and perhaps beyond …

“It’s also been great to see all the progress Williams have been making as a Team this year and I look forward to helping them continue that journey.”