"Very strict" clauses in Albon's contract protect Mercedes - Wolff

Toto Wolff says there are “very strict and clear” clauses in Alex Albon’s Williams contract for 2022 to protect Mercedes’ Formula 1 power unit IP.

Williams announced on Wednesday that it had signed current Red Bull reserve driver Albon for a full-time seat next year, partnering Nicholas Latifi.

Mercedes F1 boss Wolff had previously said it would be "tricky" to have a Red Bull-affiliated driver at a Mercedes customer team, particularly with Red Bull becoming a power unit manufacturer from next season.

Wolff said at Zandvoort last weekend that Albon would have to be released from his Red Bull contract for Mercedes to work with him at Williams.

Red Bull revealed after the Williams announcement that it had released Albon, but retained a relationship with "future options" to work together.

Speaking on Friday at Monza, Wolff said he felt no frustration over Williams' decision to sign Albon, making clear that confidentiality clauses had been worked into the Anglo-Thai driver's contract to protect Mercedes' power unit IP.

"We always respected the authority of choosing its drivers for a team," Wolff said.

"I was at Williams, and I would have not wanted anybody to interfere in our driver decision. And in the same way, we have no contractual rights that we could have or would have utilised, because I don't think it's right to meddle with the team's decision on drivers.

"What was important for us is if a driver from another power unit manufacturer joins the team then there is very strict and clear IP confidentiality clauses.

"That was always in great harmony with Williams, they know exactly where we are coming from and what is important to protect."

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Wolff added that Mercedes had "absolutely" secured the clauses it wanted in Albon's contract, saying: "He is basically a Williams driver for the next 12 months. He has no links to Red Bull during that time."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner previously revealed Williams was Albon's preferred team for 2022, having also attracted interest from Alfa Romeo, and said there was also a "keen desire" in the opposite direction.

"I have to say our dealings with [Williams] were very straightforward," Horner said.

"There were a few little obstacles on the way but I was delighted that we're able to get a good outcome for Alex, for Williams and for Red Bull."

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Wolff felt glad that Albon had secured an F1 comeback, having been dropped at the end of 2020 by Red Bull's senior team to make room for Sergio Perez as Max Verstappen's teammate.

"To be honest, I absolutely am supportive, even though it's none of my business, of Alex Albon," Wolff said.

"He deserves to be in F1, he's a great guy, and I'm happy for him that he's in the car.

"He's there, he didn't get a place in AlphaTauri or in Red Bull, but he's at Williams now and hopefully stay there for a long time."

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