Williams team principal James Vowles announced Alex Albon is signed to the team until 2025 amid rumours he could replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes, but hinted a deal could be reached to release his driver if it benefitted Williams in the long run.
It was understood that Albon‘s multi-year contract with Williams ended in 2024 but Vowles explained that’s not the case, and added his loyalty was with the team if Albon got the chance to step up the grid.
Mercedes paid £10 million to Williams to sign Valtteri Bottas in 2017 after Nico Rosberg‘s shock retirement when the Finn was still under contract at Grove, and Vowles stressed it would need to be a serious offer for them to part ways with Albon this time around.
“So Alex is signed in Williams until the end of 2025,” Vowles told media including Total-Motorsport.com at Williams 2024 car launch. “That’s signed, it’s not something I’ve been very public about because I don’t feel the need to, so any reports that you’re seeing and there’s one in particular, they’re at best speculating.
“Will I stand in his way? I have the responsibility of Williams on my shoulders. That’s the most important thing to me, it’s not the responsibility towards one individual, it’s the responsibility towards the team.
“So should any decision go that way it’s because I’m very clear in my mind that I’ve made decisions that are correct for the team’s long-term goals. Not short-term.”
What did and didn’t surprise Vowles about Hamilton move
The Silver Arrows’ last two new drivers have come from Grove, after Mercedes junior George Russell stepped up from a three-year stint with the team to replace Bottas.
And the former Mercedes chief strategist, who spent over 20 years at Brackley said he was surprised by the timing of Hamilton‘s announcement but not the decision itself, with 12 drivers thought to be out of contract at the end of 2024.
One solution could be to replace Albon at Williams with Andrea Kimi Antonelli, a Mercedes junior who makes his debut in F2 in 2024 and is one of the most highly-rated young prospects in modern F1 history.
Williams resurrected Albon‘s career in 2022 after he’d spent a year on the sidelines following his Red Bull stint, but 27-year-old stated over the offseason that he feels he’s repaid that faith with two stellar seasons for the Grove outfit, and feels ready to fight for championships entering the prime of his career.
However, Vowles stressed that Williams are focussed on Albon until circumstances change for 2025.
“As I’ve also said publicly, it is our job in Williams to create an environment that deserves some of the calibre of Alex, simple as that,” Vowles added.
“He’s an incredible driver that deserves his place towards the front, he did drives last year that were no different to some of the other champions I’ve worked with. He kept half the field behind at one race and we put him in difficult position and he overcame that to score points.
“He and I have good chats about where we want to move forward and the way we want to move forward is we want to have our journey together in this team for a long time. We have to earn that right, It’s not given by any stretch of the imagination, nor should it be.
“And so it’s back to the original question. We have to demonstrate to the world that we’re not the Williams of old and we’re not moving backwards, moving forward continuously.”