Alex Albon will return to Formula One next season after agreeing a deal to race for Williams.
The London-born Thai will take close friend George Russell’s seat following confirmation of the Briton’s deal to join Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes in 2022.
Albon, 25, was replaced by Sergio Perez at Red Bull after he struggled to keep pace with Max Verstappen in his first full season with the team.
But following 12 months on the sidelines, Albon will be handed a second chance in the sport.
Albon will partner Nicholas Latifi who has been retained by Williams for a third season.
“I am really excited and looking forward to returning to a Formula One race seat in 2022,” said Albon, who has been Red Bull’s reserve driver this year.
“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.”
Albon made his F1 debut for Toro Rosso in 2019 before being promoted to Red Bull after just 12 races.
But despite scoring two podiums in 2020, he finished 109 points and four championship places adrift of team-mate Verstappen and lost his race seat with the Milton Keynes team.
However, Red Bull, who recently handed Perez an extension for next season, have worked to loan Albon to Williams – complicated by the British team being powered by rivals’ Mercedes.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: “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.
“Alex has been a hugely valuable asset in his role as our test and reserve driver this year, helping bring performance from the simulator to the car each weekend, but 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.”
Russell, 23, whose much-anticipated move to the Silver Arrows was finally confirmed on Tuesday tweeted: “Mega happy for Williams, Nicholas Latifi and Alex Abon. Awesome line-up for 2022, very well deserved.”