Alex Albon’s hopes of one day returning to Red Bull have been crushed by Helmut Marko with the motorsport advisor stating he’s “already had his chance” alongside Max Verstappen.
Albon had a meteoric, but perhaps in hindsight unwise, rise in Formula 1 as he joined AlphaTauri in 2019 only to find himself 13 races into his rookie season sitting in a Red Bull with Verstappen as his teammate.
Although Albon secured two podiums in his first full season as a Red Bull driver, his 105 points were fewer than half of Verstappen’s tally, and Albon was demoted to a reserve driver role for the 2021 season before revitalising his career when he moved to Williams a year later.
Helmut Marko all but rules out a Red Bull return for Alex Albon
Leading the charge for Williams, Albon’s performances have been noted by both Marko and Christian Horner, resulting in speculation he could yet make a return to the seat alongside Verstappen when Sergio Perez’s contract expires.
Marko, though, has all but ruled that out.
“Max’s teammate has a very tough and difficult life,” Marko told Viaplay. “Albon has already had his chance.
“He has improved remarkably since then, but at the moment there is no driver who is on Max’s level.”
But whether or not Red Bull continue with Perez into 2024, Marko says that depends on his end result in this year’s Drivers’ standings.
“We have a commitment with him,” said the 80-year-old. “He has to finish second in the championship, we have a contract. He builds [that pressure] himself.”
Rivals praise Alex Albon’s strong Zandvoort showing
Albon put in another stand-out performance at the Zandvoort this past weekend where he qualified fourth before bringing his FW45 home in eighth place to put himself and the team up onto 15 points for the season.
“I didn’t know of course what to expect with other teams coming in but they have been quick all weekend and they’ve been quick in the wet, they’ve been quick and dry so that’s very impressive to see,” said pole-sitter Verstappen. “And that’s great for the sport as well, that more teams are up there.
“And yeah, very happy for Alex himself. He’s a great guy, he was my teammate before. We always had a good time and yeah, very happy for him to be up there and have – for at least this weekend – a very competitive car.”
Lando Norris added: “I wouldn’t say it’s a big, big surprise because they’ve been very competitive at certain places but every now and then like Silverstone was a similar thing. He was P1 through practice and so on.
“Now, they just managed to keep it more through qualifying and into Q3 especially. So I’m happy for him and the whole team. Logan was there all the way pretty much into Q3. They look strong, they made some big progress this season. And yes, good to have them in the battle too.”