Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner says Mercedes have called Alexander Albon multiple times, encouraging him not to join Williams next year.
Albon is in the running for a 2022 seat at either Williams or Alfa Romeo, which Horner confirmed to RacingNews365.com and other members of the press on Friday.
Red Bull say Albon's preference is a move to Williams, but Horner claims Mercedes, which powers the Grove-based team, are trying to block the move.
"Our objective will be to see him race in another team, rather than spend another year on the bench," Horner told Sky Sports.
"So he's got a couple of opportunities to do that outside of Red Bull and hopefully he'll get that chance. Alfa [Romeo] and Williams are the two teams showing a lot of interest.
"I think his preference would be Williams but he's had about four phone calls telling him not to go there from the team next door [Mercedes]. I told him to ignore them."
Albon's return to F1 could be announced within the next week, according to Horner. He was pushed on why Mercedes may look to block a move for the British-Thai driver to join Williams.
"Because of his linkage to Red Bull, so that would be a great shame if the driver were to pay a penalty for that," added Horner. "Hopefully that won't come to play.
"I really hope that Mercedes don't block his opportunity at Williams. [But] if he can't race next year, he'll still be with us in a test and reserve role because we rate him extremely highly."
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