FEBRUARY 6, 2024
Albon not confirming definite 2025 Williams seat
Rumours Alex Albon is one of F1's hottest properties for the 2025 driver market have been scotched by James Vowles, his current boss at Williams.
Just as the on-form British-born Thai driver was being linked with Lewis Hamilton's suddenly-vacant 2025 seat at Mercedes, rumours emerged that Albon has actually been offered a three-year deal to return to Red Bull from next year.
Dr Helmut Marko, however, reacted to sport.de by saying that Sergio Perez is still in the running to keep his seat alongside Max Verstappen.
If Checo has a good season, it is very possible that the lineup in 2025 will be the same, said the top Red Bull consultant.
As for the Hamilton-to-Ferrari bombshell, Marko declared that it's
the best thing that could have happened to Formula 1 at this time.
It also looked like very good news for Albon, whose Williams contract was said to be expiring this year. However, Vowles tells a different story.
Alex is signed with Williams until the end of 2025, he is quoted by France's L'Equipe at the British team's 2025 livery launch.
Vowles said the other rumours about Albon at present are
speculation at best.
It's not something I've really gone public with until now because I didn't feel like I had to, Vowles said of the previously-undisclosed 2025 deal with Albon. "But our job at Williams is to create an environment that is worthy of someone of Alex's calibre.
We want our journey together in this team to be a long one. We must demonstrate to the world that we are not the old Williams, that we do not look back, that we are constantly moving forward.
Albon's own reaction to the news, however, left some room for doubt.
Let's wait and see, the 27-year-old said when asked about his future. "Time will tell.
The real objective is 2024 and to progress for 2025. If the team ends up where I want it to be, it will be a long-term contract.
The implication of both Vowles' and Albon's comments is that any longer contract with Williams contains clauses in case big teams like Mercedes or Red Bull give him an offer.
Would I stand in Alex's way? Vowles said.
The responsibility for Williams rests on my shoulders, so any decision must correspondent to the long-term objectives of the team.
Albon was originally on loan to Williams from Red Bull, but Auto Bild claims the energy drink-owned company no longer has any contractual ties to the British-born Thai.
And when asked if he is also eyeing Hamilton's 2025 Mercedes seat, he insisted:
Honestly, I'm not thinking about it yet. I am completely focused on my job at Williams, because it's now a team that is on the rise.
Albon is quoted by France's Auto Hebdo as suggesting he would not say no to a big team offer.
"Of course there's also my age - I think I'm approaching the peak of my career. And with my experience, and my level, I think I deserve a car capable of fighting for podiums and victories. More than anything, I wish it was with Williams.
That is why I'm working so hard. But it's clear to me that all the teams want the same drivers today. We'll see what happens.
Albon says the unrevealed 2025 Williams has a new
philosophy, so the pressure will be on Vowles to show that the direction is right for the future.
I don't want to put pressure on James, but 2024 will be the first year in which he will really have control of the team, he said.
"I think in the last four or five years there has been a clear way in which the car was designed and this season there is quite a big divergence. We have taken risks to move away from our old habits.
It's the right thing to do and we'll have to see if it works out.
Meanwhile, former F1 driver Felipe Massa told La Gazzetta dello Sport that if he was in charge of Mercedes, Albon would not be at the top of the wish list.
If I was Toto Wolff I would take (Fernando) Alonso or Kimi Antonelli, he said.