Once axed Red Bull driver now wanted by ‘at least half the grid’ – report

Alex Albon and Sergio Perez. Bahrain March 2023. Credit: Alamy

Alex Albon and Sergio Perez. Bahrain March 2023. Credit: Alamy

Leading Formula 1 correspondent Lawrence Barretto claims Williams’ Alex Albon is set to be a “key player” in the F1 2025 driver market, with mass interest existing for his services.

Albon’s Formula 1 career was shrouded with uncertainty just a few years back after being banished to the sidelines by Red Bull, following a season-and-a-half spell from 2019-20 where he had struggled to contend with team-mate Max Verstappen.

The Anglo-Thai driver would though return to the grid for 2022 with Williams, going on to completely flip his career trajectory around by firmly establishing himself as one of the most promising talents Formula 1 has to offer.

Alex Albon now a wanted man in Formula 1

Albon soon earned himself a Williams contract extension with his impressive performances in 2022, his stock only rising further during the current F1 2023 campaign, where at the Canadian Grand Prix he recorded his best result yet with Williams by scoring a P7 finish.

But, according to Barretto, Williams have a job on their hands to retain Albon beyond his current deal which reportedly expires at the end of 2024.

Both former team Red Bull and Ferrari have been credited with an interest in signing Albon, and Barretto’s reveal that “top teams” are included in the cluster tracking Albon, means such speculation may not be far wide of the mark.

“There is so much interest from other teams,” Barretto wrote in his piece for the Formula 1 website. “Many of Red Bull’s senior engineers are understood to rate him very highly.

“It’s believed there have been conversations (either formal or informal) with at least half the grid, some of which, sources tell me, are top teams.

“The driver market is wide open for 2025 – aside from McLaren, every single team have at least one seat available.

“Sure, Albon doesn’t have a race win or World Championship under his belt – but those are actually few and far between. He has proved unequivocally that he is one of the most exciting talents on the grid right now.

“Few are operating at such a high level. If he maintains this trajectory, it’s difficult to see how he won’t be a key player in the 2025 driver market, which has already opened for business. That’s quite a position to be in, considering how bleak things looked at the end of 2020.”

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Alex Albon left with crucial decision to make

While it would be very difficult for Albon to say no if one of the leading F1 teams came knocking on his door, there are also great upsides to being part of Williams as he continues to thrive in the team leader role, looking to fire this iconic outfit towards the front of the grid once more.

But, while Albon could remain committed to the Williams revival project, Barretto suggested it could be another “five or six years” at least before the team, currently sitting P7 in the Constructors’ Championship, are fighting at the sharp end of the grid once again.

“Albon and his management have a tough call to make,” Barretto noted.

“If they stay at Williams, they will know it could be five or six years at the earliest before the team are competitive. By then, Albon will be 32 or 33. That’s still a decade younger than [Fernando] Alonso – but those years could well end up being his best.

“Stay, though, and if Williams continue to improve and become a force in the future, not only will Albon have played a significant role in that revival but he’ll have a team built around him.”

Williams have already withstood Alex Albon interest

While this talk is focused on where Albon could end up in 2025, Barretto claims two teams were actually interested in snaring Albon for the F1 2023 campaign.

His sources say Alpine had Albon in their sights when the Fernando Alonso-Oscar Piastri saga opened up a seat, while the other team weighing up a move was Haas, who gave Mick Schumacher his marching orders and ultimately replaced him with Nico Hulkenberg.

“Sources say two teams were interested in his services for 2023,” says Barretto.

“One of them was Alpine. Haas are believed to have been the other, as they assessed candidates to partner Kevin Magnussen.”

Albon has scored all 11 points on the board for Williams so far in F1 2023, the team holding P7 in the Constructors’ but tied on points with Haas a position behind.

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