Surprise name touted as potential ‘biggest key’ to F1’s driver market

Michelle Foster
All 20 F1 drivers line up behind the Safety Car for the Belgian Grand Prix sprint race.

The 2023 Formula 1 grid.

Reviving his career with Williams, Alex Albon is said to be up there with Carlos Sainz as one of the hottest properties on the F1 driver market with a possible Red Bull return touted.

Dropped by Red Bull after the 2020 season when he failed to rise to Max Verstappen’s level, Albon has set about reviving his career with Williams.

The Thai-British almost single-handedly earned the team seventh place in last year’s Constructors’ Championship, Williams’ best result since 2017, as he scored 27 of their 28 points.

A Red Bull return on the cards for Alex Albon?

He earned widespread praise at the Dutch Grand Prix where he qualified fourth and ahead of his Red Bull replacement Sergio Perez before crossing the line in eighth place, and again in Monza where he was P7 in the FW45.

The list of those applauding his performances included Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko.

But asked if the 27-year-old could make a return to Red Bull, Marko cited Albon’s multi-year contract as one of the reasons he wasn’t in line to replace Perez. He’s believed to have a deal with Williams that runs through to the end of the 2025 season.

But that doesn’t mean a return to Red Bull won’t happen in the future.

According to’s Lawrence Barretto, Albon is up there with Carlos Sainz for the “accolade of biggest key to the driver market”.

Although Williams are keen on retaining Albon’s services, Barretto writes the driver and his people are “believed to have been involved in talks with at least half of the grid about a move in the future, with two teams – Alpine and Haas – having been keen on his services for 2023.

“Ferrari are understood to be one of the interested parties, while my sources say Red Bull engineers rate him highly.

“It’s quite the turnaround for the Thai driver, who had to fight to get back on the grid after being dropped by Red Bull.” recommends

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Could it be Albon v Sainz for the Ferrari and/or Red Bull seat?

This week’s announcement that Lando Norris has committed his long-term future to McLaren means there’s one less driver in competition for the much-wanted Red Bull seat. Charles Leclerc is also out of the running having re-signed with Ferrari.

Albon, it has been suggested, could be up against Sainz for that seat or even the Ferrari one alongside Leclerc.

Although Sainz has made it clear he wants a new multi-year deal with Ferrari, “not” only two years, the Scuderia and the Spaniard are reportedly at loggerheads over the duration with Ferrari only putting a one-year extension on the table.

According to Barretto, Ferrari are “assessing their options for that seat and are understood to have multiple avenues they could explore to find a partner for Leclerc, from experienced racers to those busy making a name for themselves.”

Albon is on that list.

He was asked about the Red Bull and Ferrari rumours last year and told ESPN: “There’s one thing that is no secret and that’s 2026 is a big year as manufacturers are coming on board, teams are trying to get on board, there’s a huge push now.

“If you look at everyone’s driver contract, they’re all ending in the years leading to that. That’s just how it is right now. If you want to have a good driver, those talks start next season.

“The only thing that’s nice about rumours is it’s clearly showing things are going well. They’re nice rumours as well.

“I see some bad ones. It’s always my friends sending me this absolute garbage, like, ‘is this true!?'”

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