Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says he is happy for Alex Albon to race for Williams, but only if Red Bull releases him from his contract.
Albon has been heavily linked with a seat at Williams but on Friday Red Bull suggested there had been concerns raised by Mercedes about a Red Bull junior racing for a team that will use Mercedes power units and gearboxes in 2022. Wolff has now confirmed that is the case, but says it is down to Red Bull to release Albon in order for him to be able to race in Formula 1 again.
“It’s one thing about the power unit and I think Albon is a driver that deserves a seat in Formula 1,” Wolff said. “But it’s tricky to 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.
“And on the other side, we’re supporting Nyck de Vries, obviously, and he’s in talks with Williams to get the seat there. So there’s quite some balls in the air.”
Despite making the point about de Vries, Wolff says there is no Mercedes contract for the Dutch driver when it comes to F1.
“Nyck is his own free agent. He is a Mercedes works driver in Formula E, but I will never stand in the way for Nyck to drive in Formula 1. We have no management contract with him, neither do we have an option of taking him back in. Therefore, Nyck can drive in anything.”
Wolff admits Mercedes has spoken with Albon about his F1 plans, but hints it was regarding a solution that could see both drivers getting a chance in 2022, with a seat also available at Alfa Romeo.
“Alex is in regular contact with Gwen Lagrue, who is running our Mercedes junior program, and they were discussing with James Vowles, our head of strategy, the opportunities for next year. Things get always… tweaked, in a way. He wasn’t 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.”