Red Bull released Albon for Williams F1 seat but has ‘future options’

Red Bull has confirmed it released Alexander Albon so he could make a racing return to Formula 1 next year with Williams, but still has a relationship including “future options”.

Red Bull released Albon for Williams F1 seat but has ‘future options’

Williams announced on Wednesday that Albon would be joining the team for the 2022 season, replacing the Mercedes-bound George Russell as Nicholas Latifi’s team-mate.

It will mark a racing comeback for Albon in F1 after he lost his full-time seat with Red Bull at the end of last year, moving into a reserve and test role.

Albon had attracted interest from both Alfa Romeo and Williams for next year, but the path to Williams looked to be complicated by its status as a Mercedes customer team, given the rivalry between Mercedes and Red Bull.

Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff said last week he would have no qualms working with Albon, so long as he was “free from his Red Bull contract”, while Red Bull boss Christian Horner felt it was a “slightly unusual” demand.

Asked about Albon’s status with Red Bull from next year following the announcement, Williams F1 boss Jost Capito said: “What I can tell you is that he is a Williams driver in 2022. Whatever that means is up to you.

“Maybe you have to ask Red Bull, but for us he is a Williams driver and that is it.”

But Red Bull clarified via a spokesperson that while Albon had been released, there were still links in place between the two parties.

“We have released Alex to become a Williams Racing driver in 2022, but retain a relationship with him that includes future options,” the statement reads.

Albon’s signing also shuts off a possible seat for Mercedes Formula E driver Nyck de Vries next year, but Capito said that Wolff understood the decision.

“I think Toto at the end, he understands and we understand that we are not a B-team and we are not a satellite team,” Capito said.

Alex Albon, Nicholas Latifi, Williams

Alex Albon, Nicholas Latifi, Williams

Photo by: Williams

“We have to take the decisions that are right for us, and Toto fully respects that. And he also is fully aware of the capability that Alex has, and is also of the opinion that Alex deserves a seat in Formula 1.

“So he is supportive.”

Following a brief stint under its umbrella in his early racing career, Albon reunited with Red Bull ahead of the 2019 season when he joined its sister F1 team, Toro Rosso.

An impressive first half of his rookie season prompted Red Bull to promote Albon into its senior squad after just 12 races, replacing the struggling Pierre Gasly.

After scoring just two podiums in all of last year, Albon was replaced by Sergio Perez for 2021, leaving him to take up a support role.

But Red Bull has constantly highlighted Albon’s contribution to the team and worked to secure him a return to the grid for 2022.

When asked by Autosport if Red Bull had an option to call Albon up to its team next year if either of its regular drivers were unavailable, Capito said: “I just can say he is a Williams driver and we decide what he is doing and what he is not doing.”

Albon was pictured in an AlphaTauri shirt for the announcement, but Capito said his signing did not necessarily mean there would be Red Bull branding on the car.

“It doesn’t mean that Red Bull comes on the car or not,” Capito said.

“I’ve worked with Red Bull a long time. I first worked with Red Bull in the late 90s when I was at Sauber, so I’ve got a relationship with Red Bull since then, and I’m friends with the guys from Red Bull.

“But it doesn’t mean they have to be on the car or not, so we’ll see.”

shares
comments

Related video

Todt “blames himself” for cancelled race protocols
Previous article

Todt “blames himself” for cancelled race protocols

Next article

2021 F1 Italian GP and sprint race session timings and how to watch

2021 F1 Italian GP and sprint race session timings and how to watch
Load comments
The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Plus

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. JAMES NEWBOLD hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwarts

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022
When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push Plus

When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push

There was an ace up the sleeve during the 1983 F1 title-winning season of Nelson Piquet and Brabham. It made a frontrunning car invincible for the last three races to see off Renault's Alain Prost and secure the combination's second world title in three years

Formula 1
Jan 13, 2022
How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner Plus

How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner

Brabham’s first world championship race-winning car was held back by unreliable Climax engines – or so its creators believed, as STUART CODLING explains

Formula 1
Jan 10, 2022
The steps Norris took to reach a new level in F1 2021 Plus

The steps Norris took to reach a new level in F1 2021

Lando Norris came of age as a grand prix driver in 2021. McLaren’s young ace is no longer an apprentice or a quietly capable number two – he’s proved himself a potential winner in the top flight and, as STUART CODLING finds out, he’s ready to stake his claim to greatness…

Formula 1
Jan 9, 2022
The original F1 maestro who set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton Plus

The original F1 maestro who set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton

Juan Manuel Fangio, peerless on track and charming off it, established the gold standard of grand prix greatness. NIGEL ROEBUCK recalls a remarkable champion

Formula 1
Jan 8, 2022
How Russell sees his place in the Mercedes-Hamilton F1 superteam Plus

How Russell sees his place in the Mercedes-Hamilton F1 superteam

George Russell joining Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes this year gives it arguably the best line-up in Formula 1 – if it can avoid too many fireworks. After serving his apprenticeship at Williams, Russell is the man that Mercedes team believes can lead it in the post-Hamilton era, but how will he fare against the seven-time champion? Autosport heard from the man himself

Formula 1
Jan 6, 2022
How F1 pulled off its second pandemic season and its 2022 implications Plus

How F1 pulled off its second pandemic season and its 2022 implications

OPINION: The Formula 1 season just gone was the second to be completed under the dreaded shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in many ways it was much more ‘normal’ than 2020. Here’s the story of how the championship’s various organisers delivered a second challenging campaign, which offers a glimpse at what may be different next time around

Formula 1
Jan 5, 2022
The adapt or die mentality that will shape F1's future Plus

The adapt or die mentality that will shape F1's future

As attitudes towards the motor car and what powers it change, Formula 1 must adapt its offering. MARK GALLAGHER ponders the end of fossil fuels

Formula 1
Jan 3, 2022