Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has dismissed claims his team would act to prevent Red Bull’s reserve driver Alexander Albon joining Williams next season.
During a joint appearance by Wolff and Horner in today’s FIA press conference, the Mercedes chief described Albon as the “main protagonist” in the F1 driver market for 2022 and said he “deserves a seat”. However Horner claimed in a subsequent interview with Sky that Wolff was trying to prevent Albon joining Williams.
“We’re working hard to get him a seat,” said Horner. “I really hope that Mercedes don’t block his opportunity at Williams. That’ll be a great, great shame.”
“Alfa Romeo and Williams are the two showing a lot of interest,” Horner added. “I think his preference would be Williams but obviously there’s a few hurdles. He’s had about four phone calls telling him not to go there from the team next door. I told him to ignore them.”
While Wolff confirmed he is seeking an opportunity for Mercedes junior driver Nyck de Vries, he denied he would stop Albon joining Williams.
“I would never block someone like Alex Albon,” said Wolff. “He’s a fantastic guy, his personality is great.
“I was personally sad to see him going. And if he has [to be] driving in a Formula 1 car, I think that’s the right thing to do. But equally, maybe Nyck has. So we need to look at the open spaces at Alfa and at Williams and try to find a solution.”
Wolff’s reference to a vacancy at Williams is believed to refer to George Russell’s widely-expected move to Mercedes in place of Valtteri Bottas next season, which has not yet been formally announced.
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