Alex Albon has said his focus is remaining on driving, with any driver market moves left in the hands of his management.
The Williams driver has found himself at the heart of the F1 silly season for 2025, following the defection of Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes to Ferrari at the end of this year.
Rumours have linked the British/Thai racer with both Mercedes and Red Bull, with prominent F1 journalist Peter Windsor even stating that he understands Albon has been offered a three-year deal by Red Bull to return to the team with whom he raced during 2019 and ’20.
Alex Albon: Driver market question marks ‘not my area’
PlanetF1.com understands that, at present, Red Bull has not offered Albon a contract as the focus remains on helping Sergio Perez perform strongly alongside Max Verstappen as his contract comes up for renewal.
But, with Mercedes also sniffing around the driver market to find a replacement for Hamilton, could the lead driver of Mercedes-customer team Williams be a target?
James Vowles, team boss at Williams, told media, including PlanetF1.com, that Albon is firmly under contract with Williams until the end of 2025, but Albon shared his perspective on the matter shortly afterward.
“I would be denying (sic) if I said that there have been questions and general chats around that already,” he said from the team’s launch of the FW46 in New York on Monday.
“But, truthfully, personally, it’s not really my area. That’s more management, and my focus is about driving.
“So where I stand is I’m very excited to see how this FW46 develops, I want to see how the car feels in Bahrain, and the subsequent four or five races and really get a feel for the progression that I hope we’ve made as a team. My whole focus is on Williams.
“That’s where I see myself, I’m seeing about the long-term future and the rate of progression to me is also very important.
“So time will tell but that’s kind of my short-sighted view. Of course, things are moving around quite a lot.”
But, with Williams still not quite ready to join the upper echelons of the grid despite the improvements in performance and infrastructure Vowles is overseeing, Albon admitted he wants a car with which he can fight near the front.
“I feel like I’m at my, or am very close to my peak,” he said.
“There are always improvements to be made and there are still areas to improve.
“But generally, with my experience now and where I am, I feel like I deserve a car that can score podiums and fight for wins. That’s just being totally honest with how I see myself. More than anything, I want that team to be Williams. That’s where I put all my work and effort into.
“Aside from that, it’s just really how does it fall into place? It’s very clear to me, especially when you see the driver market, that there’s this huge interest in teams wanting the same driver for 2025 and ’26. That’s how it looks like it’s playing out and let’s see about that.”
Would James Vowles stand in the way of an Alex Albon switch?
But, with Albon locked down for 2025, would a concerted effort to leave for another team be met with much resistance by Vowles?
“Alex is signed for Williams until the end of 2025,” he said.
“That’s signed. It’s not something I’ve been very public about, because I don’t feel the need to.
“So any reports that you’re seeing, and there’s one in particular, that individual is speculating at best – speculating.
“As I’ve also said publicly, it is our job at Williams to create an environment that deserves someone of the calibre of Alex… simple as that.
“I’ve said that from the beginning and I still maintain that. He is an incredible driver who deserves to be placed towards the front. He did drives last year that I’ve commented on… they were no different than some of the other champions I’ve worked with.
“He kept half the field behind at one race. We put him in difficult positions and he overcame that to score points.
“He and I have good chats about where we want to move forward and where we want to move forward is we want to have our journey together in this team for a long time.
“We have to earn that right. It’s not a given by any stretch of the imagination, nor should it be for that matter.
“We have to demonstrate to the world that we’re not the Williams of old. We’re not moving backward, we’re moving forward. But hopefully, that provides clarity for the situation.
“With Alex, would I stand in his way? I have the responsibility of Williams on my shoulders, that’s the most important thing to me.
“It’s not the responsibility towards one individual – in this case, Alex – it’s a responsibility towards the team.
“So, should any decision go that way, it’s because I’m very clear in my mind that I’ve made decisions that are correct for the team’s long-term goals, not short.”