Red Bull has reportedly approached Alex Albon with a "first option" contract, meaning the Milton Keynes-based outfit could claim the Williams driver’s services for 2026 before anyone else.
While such an alleged offer – revealed by Motorsport.com – would secure Albon's future and potentially a lucrative return to the championship winning team, it comes with a significant trade-off.
Albon would surrender control of his career to Red Bull after 2025, limiting his options on the open market if the latter ultimately declines to take him back.
Williams team boss James Vowles recently confirmed that Albon is contracted to the team until the end of 2025, and he would consider an early release only if such a move would be in the team’s best interest.
"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 and not the short term,” Vowles said, quoted by Motorsport.com.
Albon on the other was more evasive when queried on the sale topic: "Let's see. Time will tell. But my focus is on 2024, let's keep it like that.
"The real focus is on making sure that we make progress for 2025. Yeah, that's really where I'm at.
"Realistically I want to be with the team. If the team are where I want them to be, it will be a long term long-term contract. We're gonna go all the way or nothing."
Following two solid seasons with Williams, in 2022 and 2023, Albon’s stock has continuously trended higher on the drivers’ market.
But on the back of last week’s bombshell news about Lewis Hamilton’s move to Ferrari at the end of 2024, the Anglo-Thai racer has been linked to both Mercedes and Red Bull.
Asked earlier this week at Williams’ team launch in New York about his future, Albon said that his focus was on driving, but acknowledged that his management had engaged in “general chats”.
"I would be denying it if I said that there [haven't] been questions and general chats surrounding around that, but truthfully it's not really personally my area, that's more my management,” he conceded.
“My focus is on driving. Where I stand is, I'm very excited to see how this FW46 develops, I want to see how the car feels in Bahrain and the subsequent four, five, six races and really get a feel for the progression that I hope we've made as a team.
"My whole focus is on Williams and that's where I see myself. The rate of progression to me is also very important, so time will tell."
Albon felt that his personal development coupled with his level of experience justified him being entrusted with a car capable of fighting at the front of the field.
"I feel like I'm very close to my peak,” he added. “There are always improvements to be done and there are still areas to improve, but generally, with my experience now and where I am, I feel like I am deserving of a car that can score podiums and fight for wins. And that's just being totally honest with how I see myself.
"More than anything, I want that team to be Williams and that's where I put all my work and all my efforts into.
"It's very clear to me, especially when you see the driver market, there's a huge interest in teams wanting the same driver for '25 and '26. That's how it looks like it's playing out. And let's see about that."