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Alexander Albon

Can Albon handle Verstappen rematch at Red Bull?

Reports have stated that Alex Albon has been offered a return to Red Bull in 2026, whilst he's also been heavily linked to Lewis Hamilton's seat at Mercedes for 2025.

Albon Belgium
To news overview © XPBimages

Williams Team Principal James Vowles recently put a hurdle in the way of any team poaching Albon for next year, by revealing that he's already contracted to the Grove-based side for it.

Nevertheless, after elevating Williams to seventh in the Constructors' Championship last season, Albon is hot property on the driver market. Since returning to F1 in 2022 after being dropped by Red Bull for Sergio Perez at the conclusion of the 2020 campaign, Albon has been a different driver.

The Thai-born star has demonstrated at Williams that he's both capable of leading a team and has matured greatly, two traits he failed to show whilst being battered by Max Verstappen during his 18-month stint alongside the three-time World Champion.

In 2023 in particular, Albon made seven appearances in Q3, with his best qualifying position having been fourth at the Dutch Grand Prix. In a Williams, this was an extraordinary achievement. He backed up his strong qualifying performances by scoring 27 of the team's 28 points, highlighting how he carried the team up the standings.

His consistency and impressive raw pace in a package below the midfield makes it no surprise that he has caught Red Bull's eye, something very few thought would happen after feeling Dr. Helmut Marko's wrath in 2020.

Does Red Bull return make sense?

Red Bull are reportedly wanting to snap Albon up quickly for 2026 to ensure that the likes of Mercedes can't sign him, whilst allowing him to complete his deal with Williams.

If it happens, it'll see the 27-year-old enter the new power unit regulations with the Austrians, who will be powering themselves in a bold approach to the next era of the sport. More importantly, Albon would reunite with Verstappen.

Albon is a significantly better driver than he was the last time he was alongside the Dutchman. There's no doubting that, but is he good enough to either match his performances or beat him?

In many ways, returning to Red Bull would be a full circle moment for Albon, and give him the platform to demonstrate just how much he's improved. Being directly compared to Verstappen could be a huge challenge to handle and one which will test him mentally.

However, it can be argued that he doesn't need to prove anything to the Austrians, given how close their actions came to ending his F1 career altogether. Had it not been for the move to Williams in 2022, who knows where the wanted driver would currently be racing?

At Red Bull, Albon will also not be the star driver nor the number one, two things he definitely is at Williams. He's more than good enough to race for one of the leading teams, but perhaps one he doesn't have history with is better suited to him.

If possible, replacing Hamilton at Mercedes might be the more logical option, as it's a new environment for Albon and George Russell is a driver he not only gets on with well, but could potentially beat.

Verstappen is in a league of his own and has obliterated countless records for a reason. Is this an atmosphere Albon would want to re-enter?

The other option would be to remain at Williams for 2026 and continue helping the team develop and reduce the gap to the frontrunners. A downside to this option, though, is that it cannot be guaranteed that the British outfit will make that sizeable jump.

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