Red Bull says it has “released” Alex Albon to race for the Williams F1 team in 2022, but “retains a relationship with him that includes future options”.
Albon was confirmed by Williams alongside Nicholas Latifi as its new signing for the upcoming F1 season, which will be the first under the new F1 regulations.
During the Dutch GP weekend that preceded the announcement, the prospect of Albon’s move to Williams being blocked by engine supplier Mercedes was broached by Red Bull boss Christian Horner – and Mercedes soon admitted that it believed there would be an issue if Albon raced a Mercedes-powered Williams in 2022 while remaining a Red Bull-contracted driver.
Responding to a query from The Race about Albon’s status with Red Bull following his announcement at Williams, Red Bull said: “We have released Alex to become a Williams Racing driver in 2022 but retain a relationship with him that includes future options.”
This seems to indicate that while Albon is no longer a Red Bull-contracted driver, having spent 2021 as the test and reserve driver for its main F1 team, his links with the energy drinks company remain, and it continues to have an eye on him for the future.
This also tallies with the press release Red Bull sent out right after the Williams announcement, in which it emphasised its role in helping Albon onto the 2022 F1 grid and that it will be “following his progress closely”.
Williams Racing CEO Jost Capito faced questions about Albon’s status following the announcement, and was keen to avoid going into detail.
“All I can tell you is that he’s a Williams driver for 2022. Whatever it means is up to you. Maybe you have to ask Red Bull. But for us he is a Williams driver and that’s it,” Capito said.
“I first worked with Red Bull in the late 90s when I was at Sauber so I’ve got the relationship since then and I’m friends with the guys from Red Bull” :: Williams boss Jost Capito
Asked whether Red Bull therefore had the chance to recall Albon for 2023, he said: “We don’t comment on details of the contract, I can just say he is a Williams driver. Whatever happens in next year, we can’t predict that. We don’t know if he is happy with us, if we are happy with him, we will see where it goes.
“But in general I don’t intend in having drivers going in and out. That doesn’t mean anything for the contract but in my mind it means we want to build the team and we want to build it long term. For this stage, where the team is now, Alex is our driver.”
I can’t tell you how good it feels to say.. I’m joining @WilliamsRacing for 2022!! The most sincere thank you to Jost and everyone at Williams for trusting me with this opportunity and of course @redbullracing especially Christian and Dr. Marko for making this possible. pic.twitter.com/c0NhSQLd0L
— Alex Albon (@alex_albon) September 8, 2021
The announcement of Albon and Latifi was accompanied by a shot of the two (above), in which Albon wore a shirt with the logo of Red Bull’s clothing label AlphaTauri, while Latifi’s adorned that of existing Williams partner Crew Clothing Company.
And Capito did not dismiss the possibility of Red Bull branding appearing on the Williams car at some point, although he said this wouldn’t be tied into Albon’s signing.
“Not because of Alex’s arrival but we are in various discussions, it doesn’t mean that Red Bull comes on the car but I’ve worked with Red Bull a long time, I first worked with Red Bull in the late 90s when I was at Sauber so I’ve got the relationship with Red Bull since then and I’m friends with the guys from Red Bull.
“But it doesn’t mean that they have to be on the car or not, so we’ll see.”