Red Bull released Albon for Williams 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”.

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 teammate.

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 Motorsport.com 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.”

Read Also:

shares
comments

Related video

Formula 1 and Motorsport Network launch world’s largest F1 Fan Survey

Previous article

Formula 1 and Motorsport Network launch world’s largest F1 Fan Survey

Next article

How the Dutch Grand Prix proved itself as a top-line F1 event

How the Dutch Grand Prix proved itself as a top-line F1 event
Load comments
The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from Prime

The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from

OPINION: The headlines were dominated by the Italian Grand Prix clash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, who had the halo to thank for avoiding potentially serious injury. But two days earlier, Formula 1 had a lucky escape with a Monza pitlane incident that could also have had grave consequences.

How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum Prime

How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum

With two sprint races under its belt, Formula 1 must now consider its options for them going forward. While they've helped deliver exciting racing on Sundays, the sprints themselves have been somewhat lacking - creating yet another conundrum for F1 to solve...

Formula 1
Sep 16, 2021
Who should Alfa Romeo sign for 2022's F1 season? Prime

Who should Alfa Romeo sign for 2022's F1 season?

OPINION: With Valtteri Bottas already signed up for 2022, all eyes are on the race for the second seat at Alfa Romeo next year. Antonio Giovinazzi is the current incumbent, but faces a tough competition from appealing short and long-term prospects

Formula 1
Sep 15, 2021
The "forced break" that was key to Ricciardo's Monza excellence Prime

The "forced break" that was key to Ricciardo's Monza excellence

OPINION: Daniel Ricciardo has long been considered one of Formula 1's elite drivers. But his struggles at McLaren since switching from Renault for 2021 have been painful to watch at times. Yet he's recovered to banish those memories with a famous Monza win – built on a critically important foundation

Formula 1
Sep 14, 2021
Italian Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Italian Grand Prix driver ratings

Two drivers produced faultless performances as, for the second year in a row, Monza threw up an unpredictable result that left many to rue what might have been

Formula 1
Sep 13, 2021
Why Ricciardo would have won without Verstappen/Hamilton crash Prime

Why Ricciardo would have won without Verstappen/Hamilton crash

The clash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton was the major flashpoint the 2021 Italian Grand Prix will be remembered for. Yet by this point, race leader Daniel Ricciardo had already done the hard work that would put him in position to end his and McLaren's lengthy win droughts, on a memorable afternoon in Monza

Formula 1
Sep 13, 2021
Why Italian GP success is on for McLaren even if Verstappen dominates Prime

Why Italian GP success is on for McLaren even if Verstappen dominates

For the second time in 2021, McLaren will line up for the start of a grand prix from the first row. It knows it has the chance of "glory" if things go well for Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris at the start of the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, but even if they just maintain their grid positions, signs from the rest of the Monza weekend suggest success is very possible for Formula 1's other orange army

Formula 1
Sep 12, 2021
How Formula 1 has made itself unattractive to new teams Prime

How Formula 1 has made itself unattractive to new teams

OPINION: The Formula 1 cost cap has been billed as a saviour to several teams and helped to guarantee their viability for investors. But there already exists another mechanism that effectively had the same purpose, and serves as a strong deterrent for those with the means to go it alone in setting up a new team

Formula 1
Sep 10, 2021