Williams driver Alex Albon has confirmed that he is no longer going to be part of the Red Bull programme after the end of this season.
Albon made his debut with Red Bull’s junior team, Toro Rosso, in 2019, having finished third in the Drivers’ Standings in Formula 2 the year previous.
George Russell came first and second, respectively that year, and they joined Williams and McLaren.
Albon impressed in the first half of the season alongside Daniil Kvyat, but Pierre Gasly, who had been promoted to Red Bull alongside Max Verstappen following his successful period with Toro Rosso, was struggling.
In the end, Christian Horner and Dr Helmut Marko were forced to accept that the Frenchman’s promotion was “premature,” so they placed him back into the Faenza-based squad.
He was replaced by Albon, who showed more impressive signs in the latter part of the season; he might have helped secure a one-two in Brazil had he not been wiped out by Sir Lewis Hamilton.
2020 was more difficult for the Thai-Briton though, and his two podium finishes came amid inconsistent performances that saw him finish far adrift of Verstappen, who was persistently challenging the dominant Mercedes pair of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
He too was let go at the end of that season, and took a year away to race in DTM having been replaced by Sergio Perez.
But he quickly found his way back with Williams after Red Bull agreed to loan him out, and he has scored points three times this year, lifting him to 18th in the Drivers’ Standings in a Williams car that, pound for pound, is the slowest on the grid.
The 26-year-old has recently agreed a new contract with Williams that will see him stay next year and beyond, and his affiliation with Red Bull is all but over now.
“That’s pretty much it now, I’m a total Williams driver,” Albon told the Mirror.
“I had a link with Red Bull through this year, I still have a great relationship with Red Bull.
Like Williams, they gave me a chance in Formula 1, and I really enjoy the people there, they’ve always been really supportive to me, but now it’s more of a focus with Williams.”
Albon was reserve driver with Red Bull alongside his DTM duties last season, and he watched as Verstappen claimed a dramatic world championship success.
The Dutchman now leads Perez by 93 points in the Drivers’ Standings, with Red Bull 118 clear of Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship.
Albon is delighted to see his former team succeeding after years of hard work through the turbo-hybrid era to get there.
“Max, Red Bull, they’ve really hit their stride in the last couple of years, they’ve always been good at regulation changes historically, and even the stuff they did with Honda and going into the new era with their Powertrains, it’s impressive,” he added.
“They’re really creating their own team.
“For sure, I don’t think it’s going to be a runaway – we know what Mercedes can do and what Ferrari have got, they still have a very strong car – but [Red Bull] have the upper hand at the moment.”
Albon’s team-mate, Nicholas Latifi, does not have a contract for next year, with Formula 2 driver, Logan Sargeant, former Formula E champion, Nyck de Vries, Daniel Ricciardo and Mick Schumacher all being linked with his seat in what has been the silliest of silly seasons in 2022.