“Strict and clear” clauses in place for Albon to join Williams – Wolff

2021 Italian Grand Prix

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is satisfied Alexander Albon will not retain links to Red Bull when he joins Williams next year.

Wolff had raised concerns over the Red Bull reserve driver moving to the Mercedes customer team. In order for Albon to join Williams, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner confirmed he will be released from his contract next year, though they will retain future options on his services.

Albon “is basically a Williams driver for the next 12 months,” said Wolff. “He has no links to Red Bull during that time.”

Wolff insisted he did not raise objections to Albon joining Williams in an attempt to block him joining the team in favour of Mercedes-backed driver Nyck de Vries.

“We always respected [Williams’] authority of choosing its drivers for the team,” said Wolff. “I was at Williams and I would have not wanted anybody to interfere in our drivers decision.

“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 of drivers, full stop.”

The Mercedes boss is satisfied with the restrictions which have been put in place to safeguard the manufacturer’s intellectual property.

“What was important for us is that if a driver from another power unit manufacturer joins the team, that there is very strict and clear IP confidentiality clauses and that was always in great harmony with Williams. They know exactly where we are coming from and what is important to protect.

“And to be honest I absolutely support – even though it’s none of my business – Alex Albon. He deserves to be in F1, he’s a great guy and I’m happy for him that that he’s in the car.

“He’s there, he didn’t get a place in the AlphaTauri or a Red Bull but he’s at Williams now and hopefully stays there for a long time.”

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2021 Italian Grand Prix

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14 comments on ““Strict and clear” clauses in place for Albon to join Williams – Wolff”

  1. Toto just ‘giving away’ that Williams seat? I’m sure Toto got a nice big bag of money for that. Or, does Red Bull pay Williams money to put Albon there? And then Williams pay Mercedes? How does this work?

    1. You could argue it was never Toto’s seat to give away. But there must be some constraints in place that if there is no Mercedes junior driver, the engine pricetag goes up for instance?

  2. Why is Toto involved?

    1. Because if Albon is still a driver for Redbull, he can still do simulation work for them and it won’t be too difficult to compare how Mercedes engine modes work. You might say Redbull have some engineers from Mercedes, but new developments keep going on and engineers are very good at understanding what a manufacturer is trying to achieve based on how the drivers are told to run the engines.
      It is for this same reason Redbull would not have employed Russell as a driver.

  3. “We always respected [Williams’] authority of choosing its drivers for the team,” said Wolff. “I was at Williams and I would have not wanted anybody to interfere in our drivers decision.

    – He says, while interfering in the decision.

    Seriously the power this guy has over another team’s choice of driver is wrong.

    1. Red Bull had four seats to shove Albon in somewhere and wanted another in a Mercedes powered car. Wolff has the right to try to defend their interests from RB shenaningans.

      1. Going by that logic Mercedes have eight seats, what’s your point?

        1. That is not actually the same logic, especially because Alpha Tauri is clearly red bull owned, using red bull technologies for some technologies (as do red bull the team. Clearly independent units, though all by the same owner) and not just powered by their PU (and gearbox) @rocketpanda, your dislike betrays you here.

    2. @rocketpanda ..and the hypocrisy has reached new heights. Practically newspeak now.

    3. @rocketpanda Your dislike for anything Mercedes shows here, Wolff did not block Albon from joining Williams. Not sure what you are complaining about.

      1. Mercedes aren’t giving Williams engines out of the goodness of their hearts, Williams paid them for it. If Williams decided to field a herd of chickens in one of their cars it’d be their choice to do so because it’s quite literally their car. The team principal of another team dictating to a customer what they can and cannot do with their car is what I don’t like, Wolff and Mercedes opinions of what Williams decide to do with the engine once they’ve bought it shouldn’t be their buisness anymore.

        1. @rocketpanda That may be the case but I’m guessing Williams had a hefty discount on their PU supply in exchange for Mercedes having Russell in that seat, with De Vries being an easy option to fill that gap and continue their agreement. So it’s pretty reasonable to think that Wolff would of course have a say on what happens with that seat. He is potentially losing out here.

  4. One thing that I don’t quite understand…
    Let’s say that Albon does in fact learn about the Mercedes PU in Williams and shares that information with Red Bull.
    Aren’t the PU going to be frozen anyway from next year till 2025-26, so any knowledge that he gains is basically worthless since no one can upgrade their engines anymore…?
    Am I missing something here?

    Plus as mentioned above, Red Bull hired plenty of Mercedes’ engineers to help them with their engine (the future post-2025-26 I suppose). So the Mercdes PU it’s not that big of a secret any more, or all the other PU at this point after so many years of development and drivers/engineers changing teams.

    1. I could be wrong about this, but maybe reliability-related upgrades may be possible even with the engine freeze. Maybe they worry that he could learn something about the MB engine and pass it to RB, then they introduce something that supposedly helps with reliability and just conveniently happens to include some trick that MB has on their engine?

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