With Kimi Raikkonen announcing his retirement at the end of this season and George Russell very likely to join Mercedes, there are a lot of talks surrounding the vacant seats. Red Bull has made its hopes of seeing Alex Albon fill in Russell’s seat at Williams quite clear.
Albon joined Red Bull Junior Team in 2012, seven years later he made his debut in Formula 1 with Toro Rosso and was promoted to Red Bull halfway through that same season. He raced alongside Max Verstappen for another year, only to be replaced with Sergio Perez at the end of 2020. This season he has been racing in DTM and is Red Bull’s reserve driver.
A close tie with the Mylton Keynes team that appears quite inconvenient in his quest to return to F1 as a Williams driver.
“Albon, as I said yesterday, is a driver that deserves a seat in Formula 1,” said Toto Wolff in a post-quali session with written media including MotorLat.
“But it's tricky, you have a 100% Red Bull driver on a Mercedes power unit. So happy to work with him as long as they let him free from his Red Bull contract.”
Just yesterday Red Bull’s Team Principal Christian Horner had expressed his concern over the fact that Mercedes could “block Albon’s opportunity at Williams”.
“I think Alex Albon is in regular contact with an exponent of mine who is Gwen Lagrue who is running our Mercedes Junior Program and he will be discussing with James Vowles, our Head of Strategy, the opportunities for next year,” replied Wolff when asked about Horner’s insinuation.
“Things get always tweaked in a way. I don't think he was told to do or not do anything, it was just exploring the opportunities for Alex and for Nyck in an amicable way between Alex and the group.”
Nyck is no one other than Nyck De Vries, crowned Formula E Champion with Mercedes EQ just last month. As of now the Dutch driver is the only F2 title winner that has not yet debuted in Formula 1. A debut that seems nearer than ever.
“On the other side we are supporting Nyck De Vries obviously and he is in talks with Williams to get the seat there, so there are quite some balls [in play] in there,” said Wolff.
In fact Mercedes powered Williams might not be the only option open for him. Or at least the German team would have no problem if he were to drive for Alfa Romeo Racing in 2022.
“Nyck is on his own free agent,” explained Wolff. “Nyck is a Mercedes driver in Formula E but I will never stand in Nyck's way to drive in Formula 1. We have no management contract with him, neither do we have an option of taking him back and therefore Nyck can drive in any team.”