Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner believes Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez would both wait for his team to make a decision on Alex Albon before signing elsewhere.
Both drivers are available for 2021 as it stands and Red Bull has made clear it is likely to turn to one of the two if it opts to replace Albon next season following a difficult year so far. Despite Perez being heavily linked with a move to Williams and seats at Haas and Alfa Romeo yet to be officially confirmed, Horner says his team has priority and doesn’t need to move quickly for fear of either of them agreeing other deals.
“I think that you’ve got to look at all of the options,” Horner said. “I don’t think we’d be doing our job if we didn’t look at the situation within Formula 1 that there are obviously drivers that have significant experience and ability — it’s a very unusual situation they could be available.
“The reality is there’s not so many races left in the season. It’s getting to that time of year where we need to start thinking about that. I think within the next few weeks we’re going to have to make a decision. We know what all the options are.
“I think any of those drivers [Perez or Hulkenberg] would put Red Bull as a priority over any other seat, so I think they would wait to see what any decision is.”
Despite talk of turning to more experienced drivers, with Red Bull not in a battle in the constructors’ championship this season Horner insists Albon will be given the final five races to prove himself and there is no chance of an early replacement being brought in, even though Hulkenberg is available.
“We’re committed to Alex for this year,” he said. “Everybody in the team wants him to lay claim to this seat next year. He’s a great guy, we believe he does have talent — he’s still only in his second year of Formula 1. It’s mentally tough, going up against Max. He’s showed he can bounce back previously and I really hope for him that he can bounce back from a difficult weekend (in Portugal) at Imola.”
Pierre Gasly has excelled at AlphaTauri this season but will not replace Albon, after being confirmed as staying where he is in 2021.