Albon is in talks with both Williams and Alfa Romeo for a race seat in 2022, with Red Bull eager to get the Thai driver back on the grid.
But although Williams is Albon’s preferred option, the situation has hit a road block with Mercedes concerned that, if Albon ended up racing there, he could feed back information on its engines to his Red Bull bosses.
It comes with Red Bull starting its own power unit project from 2022, first running Honda engines while it ramps up efforts for the all-new rules concept from 2026 at the latest.
Wolff said over the Dutch Grand Prix that the only way he could accept Albon driving for Williams would be if Red Bull ended its contractual ties to the youngster.
That stipulation has not gone down well with Horner, who does not understood why Wolff is getting involved – and says he is confident Williams will be able to decide by itself who it wants to take.
“It’s slightly unusual,” said Horner about the prospect of a manufacturer like Mercedes being able to steer a customer team on its driver choices.
“Obviously it’s a huge influence, but I’m assured that Williams choose the drivers that they wish to drive in their car, and that they don’t have restrictions.”
Alexander Albon, Red Bull Racing RB15
Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool
Horner said that Red Bull’s key focus was on getting Albon a race seat, and he felt it could still happen without it needing to sever ties with him.
“Maybe we don’t,” he explained. “We’ve had very productive discussions with Williams and with Alfa, and I expect the situation to hopefully be resolved in the next week or so.
“Obviously we want to see Alex racing next year. We rate him highly. I think we’re close to finding a solution. Hopefully Alex will be back on the grid next year and, behind the scenes, we’re doing everything we can to make sure that happens.”
While Mercedes has expressed reservations about Albon gaining knowledge of its engine, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto is clear that he would not step in to prevent him driving for customer team Alfa Romeo.
“I believe that whatever is happening between the team and the driver, it is between the team and driver,” he said. “As manufacturers, we should not influence that.
“If a driver has an opportunity to drive and the team is happy to give him a seat, then they should give him a seat.”