Albon's path to Toro Rosso not yet cleared by Nissan

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Alexander Albon is expected to replace Brendon Hartley at Toro Rosso next season but only if Red Bull can convince Nissan e.dams to release the 22-year-old from his 2019 Formula E contract.

The Thai-British racer - a former member of Red Bull's young driver programme - was unexpectedly approached by Helmut Marko recently, the energy drink company's motorsport boss holding talks with Nissan that precluded Albon from taking part in last week's pre-season FE test in Valencia.

Clarity on the driver's contractual situation is now being sought, but Nissan e.dams boss Jean-Paul Driot admits the state of affairs has frustrated Nissan's management.

"We are very much frustrated within DAMS and Nissan e.dams because as far as DAMS is concerned and Formula 2 is concerned, we have done a lot in order to help Alexander Albon race, financially speaking.

"We gave him a good car – because the year before the team he was with [ART Grand Prix], he didn’t really perform – and with us he has demonstrated that he is very quick, which I never doubted.

"We took him for a three-year contract [in FE] and suddenly out of the blue – because we helped him a lot to brush and to shine his image – Toro Rosso came with Dr Marko to say that he wanted to have Albon in a car."

Driot admits that he doesn't want to stand in the way of a once-in-a-lifetime chance for Albon to become a Grand Prix driver, but Nissan may not agree.

"When you ask a blind man if he wants to see, you know the answer. When he [Marko] talked about Formula 1 to a driver who was always dreaming to do so, you know the answer as well.

"So we are negotiating with Toro Rosso, Nissan have top management who were not really happy, as you can imagine.

"[They are] very unhappy because we had signed him for three years. But we are trying to find a solution."

As talks continue with all parties, Driot knows that enforcing Albon's contract would not lead to a productive collaboration between team and driver.

"We are trying to find a solution because when you have a driver who doesn’t want to drive any more, what do you do? But we have a contract and that is clear," he added.

"Nothing is done at the moment, and this is why we put Oliver Rowland in the car – as a kind of third driver – and we will see in the coming two-three weeks how it develops.

"We are discussing with Toro Rosso in order to see how we can find the best solution for everyone."

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