Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says that Alex Albon’s return to the F1 grid in 2022 could be decided in “the next few days”.
The Red Bull reserve driver is rumored to be at the top of Williams’ short-list of potential replacements for George Russell who is expected to move to Mercedes next season.
But Alfa Romeo is also a suitor of Albon’s services according to Horner, who said that clarity on the Anglo-Thai’s future could be reached as soon as next week, during the run-up to the Italian Grand Prix.
“I hope that nothing prevents him from realising one of those opportunities,” Horner said on Friday at Zandvoort.
“He’s a talented driver. Subject to George moving, now Kimi [Raikkonen] is retiring, that does open up opportunities. So I’m sure that will get resolved over the next week or so.”
In terms of something “preventing” Albon from joining Williams, Horner was perhaps alluding to the team’s affiliation with engine supplier Mercedes. The German manufacturer could consider Albon as a pipeline to information on its power units for the benefit of Red Bull to which he is likely to remain contracted.
Horner emphasized that Red Bull is only looking at outside opportunities, dismissing a return of the 25-year-old to AlphaTauri.
“We’re looking at external teams,” Horner said. “So Williams and Alfa have both expressed interest. And yeah, we’re keen to see him back racing in Formula 1.
Horner also said that despite Albon’s affiliation with Red Bull, the energy drink company would “accommodate whatever we can to ensure that he’s back in a race seat next year.”
“There’s always obstacles,” added Horner. “He’s a lad that deserves an opportunity in Formula 1 next year, and we’re doing our best to try and help him achieve that.
“There’s good discussions ongoing at the moment. So hopefully that can get resolved in the coming days.”
Albon’s situation is being closely monitored by Mercedes boss Toto Wolff as the outcome of the Red Bull reserve’s situation is expected to directly impact the prospects of Formula E World Champion and Mercedes protégé Nyck de Vries, who is also targeting one of the available seats at Williams and Alfa Romeo.
“He [Albon] is probably the main protagonist in the moving chairs,” Wolff said.
“So Nyck has a guaranteed seat in Formula E with us. And I mean, as I said before, I wish him to be in Formula 1, but I don’t want to lose him for our Formula E campaign.”
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