Toto Wolff’s demand that Red Bull release Alex Albon if he joins Williams is a “huge influence” from one team on another, says Christian Horner.
Dropped by Red Bull after last year’s championship, Albon seems to be holding all the cards in the 2022 driver market.
The Thai-British racer is on the shortlist for both Williams and Alfa Romeo with Red Bull team boss Horner saying Williams is the driver’s preferred choice.
Wolff isn’t happy about that.
The Austrian has made it clear that he wants Mercedes Formula E champion Nyck de Vries to get the Williams seat, saying if Red Bull want to see Albon return to the grid with Williams, they’ll have to cut ties with the driver.
“It’s one thing about the power unit and I think Albon, as I said, is a driver that deserves a seat in Formula 1,” said the Mercedes motorsport boss.
“But it’s tricky to have a 100 per cent 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.”
Told of Wolff’s demand, Horner said to The Race: “It’s slightly unusual.
“It’s a huge influence, but I’m sure Williams chooses the drivers they wish to drive in the car, and that they don’t have restrictions.”
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) September 4, 2021
Asked if he felt Red Bull would have to say goodbye to Albon to put him at either Williams or Alfa Romeo, Horner said: “Maybe we don’t.
“We’ve had very productive discussions with Williams and with Alfa, and I expect the situation to hopefully be resolved in the next week or so.”
Ferrari are in a similar position to Mercedes when it comes to Alfa Romeo but team boss Mattia Binotto is adamant he would never insist on Albon breaking ties with Red Bull to join a Ferrari-powered team.
Instead he says the decision of who will drive should be solely up the team alone.
“I believe that whatever is happening between a team and a driver should be between the team and the driver and as manufacturers we should not influence,” said the Italian.
“If a driver got an opportunity to drive he should simply have the opportunity to drive, wherever he’s coming from.
“If the team is happy to give him a seat, it’s happy to give him a seat. That’s it.”