The shocking news that Lewis Hamilton was leaving Mercedes for Ferrari ahead of the 2025 Formula 1 season kickstarted what was already on track to be a whirlwind silly season. With the majority of drivers set to see their contracts expire at the end of the 2024 season if driver movement on the track was hard to find — thanks Max Verstappen — then perhaps driver movement off the track would be a bit easier to spot.
One of the names immediately linked to Hamilton’s soon-to-be-vacated seat at Mercedes? Alex Albon. The Williams driver is coming off an impressive season, where he scored all but one of his team’s points and propelled Williams to a stunning seventh-place finish in the Constructors’ Championship. That success led many to believe Albon could be in line for the seat, but it seems that one of Mercedes’ rivals is looking to beat them to the punch.
According to multiple reports, first from Autosport, Red Bull has inquired about signing Albon to a “first option” contract, that would give Red Bull the option to bring him back to the team for the 2026 season, on a reported “three-year deal.” That would put Albon alongside Max Verstappen, and into a seat currently held by Sergio Pérez.
Pérez is under contract through 2024, and his future with Red Bull has been a constant source of speculation.
At Monday’s New York City launch of the FW46 Albon addressed rumors regarding his future to the media, including SB Nation. During the discussion Albon made it clear that his priority right now was Williams.
“On my side, I think it’s pretty simple. Really. I’m here as a Williams driver. I’m here to focus on bringing this team up, you know, and I enjoy that. I love being part of this team,” said Albon on Monday.
“So on my side, it’s purely to perform and then everything else that comes around,” continued the Williams driver. “I’m very interested to see the work we’ve done over the last year into this year. Where does the performance of the car put us? And then obviously, that will be a big factor in, what I, where I would plan the future to be.
“But that’s still, as I said, a long way away and then my focus is on the team and doing a good job here.”
Also on Monday, Team Principal James Vowles confirmed that Albon was under contract through the 2025 season, which would likely require Mercedes to buy him out of his Williams deal if he were to be their replacement for Hamilton.
The Williams boss also made it clear that his job is to create an environment — and a car — at Williams that would make Albon want to stay.
“As I’ve also said publicly, it is our job in Williams to create an environment that deserves someone of the caliber of Alex,” said Vowles on Monday.
“He is an incredible driver who deserves his place towards the front. We put him in difficult positions and he overcame that to score points. He and I have good chats about where we want to move forward … we want to have our journey together in this team for a long time.”
If Albon were to join Red Bull for the 2026 season, it would be a homecoming for the driver and something of a full-circle moment. Albon began his F1 career driving for Toro Rosso, before replacing Pierre Gasly at Red Bull alongside Max Verstappen during the 2019 season. He finished eighth in the Drivers’ Championship back in 2019, securing Rookie of the Year honors at the end of the season.
Albon finished seventh in 2020, but was replaced ahead of the 2021 season.