Mercedes happy to work with Albon as long as Red Bull releases him

Toto Wolff says Mercedes would be happy to work with Alex Albon at customer team Williams next year if Red Bull releases him from its Formula 1 contract.

Mercedes happy to work with Albon as long as Red Bull releases him

Albon is angling to make an F1 comeback next year, having dropped off the grid when he was dropped by Red Bull into a reserve role at the end of the 2020 season.

Both Williams and Alfa Romeo have expressed an interest in signing Albon for next year, while Mercedes Formula E driver Nyck de Vries has also been linked to both teams.

Red Bull F1 boss Christian Horner said on Friday that Albon's preference was to join Williams, but that he feared Mercedes would block the move because of its ties to its customer squad.

Asked by Motorsport.com on Saturday how much of an issue it would be for a Red Bull-linked driver to race with a Mercedes power unit next year, Mercedes boss Wolff acknowledged it would be "tricky".

"It's one thing about the power unit, and I think with Albon, as I said yesterday, he's a driver that deserves his seat in Formula 1," Wolff said.

"But it's tricky to have a 100% Red Bull driver on a Mercedes power unit. So, [we are] happy to work with him, as long as they let him free from his Red Bull contract.

"And on the other side, we are supporting Nyck de Vries, obviously, and he is in talks with Williams to get the seat there. So there's quite some balls in the air."

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Horner claimed on Friday that Albon had received "about four phone calls telling him not to go there from the team next door", but Wolff denied Mercedes had tried to dissuade the Anglo-Thai driver from a Williams switch.

"Alex Albon is in regular contact with an ex-mentor of mine, Gwen Lagrue, who is running our Mercedes junior programme," Wolff said.

"They were discussing with James Vowles, our head of strategy, the opportunities for next year.

"I don't think he was told to do or not do anything, it was just exploring the opportunities for Alex and for Nyck in an amicable way, between Alex and the group."

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