Alex Albon is at the centre of conversation at his home British GP.
At Silverstone, the British-born Thai driver was right on the pace – P3 – in both practice sessions in his rapidly improving 2023 Williams.
“Let’s see how much fuel they had in that car,” said Dr Helmut Marko, who promoted the 27-year-old into F1 via the Red Bull driver program but subsequently demoted and then approved his transition to a non-Red Bull F1 driver.
“They must have turned everything all the way up,” he added.
For his part, Albon admitted he was “surprised” by the Friday pace – but according to Haas rival Nico Hulkenberg, Williams’ speed is actually “real”.
“They look damn fast,” said the German. “Yep, it looks real.”
Williams boss James Vowles admits that the fast times were achieved during simulated “qualifying runs”, as the team gets a “better understanding of our recent upgrades”.
“I’d like to bet that other teams had more fuel on board,” he admitted.
Red Bull’s Christian Horner, however, left open the possibility that the new-specification and heavier Pirelli tyres introduced at Silverstone have “suddenly changed” the pecking order.
But at the very same time, it is rumoured that top teams are now potentially interested in snapping up Albon for the future.
He is even being linked with Ferrari.
“In Austria, (Ferrari boss) Frederic Vasseur spoke to Alex Albon about 2025,” the Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport reports.
Another possibility is that Red Bull might see Albon as a candidate to eventually replace Sergio Perez – despite the Mexican having taken Albon’s seat after 2020.
Performance aside, the move might also have the backing of Red Bull’s upper brass – including the energy drink’s new CEO, Oliver Mintzlaff.
“With every conversation I have with Mintzlaff, the situation becomes more positive and constructive,” Marko, who initially clashed with Dietrich Mateschitz’s successor, told Kronen Zeitung newspaper.
Albon also has powerful Thai allies in the form of Chalerm Yoovidhya, heir to the late Thai billionaire whose family still controls 51 percent of the energy drink company.
Yoovidhya was present at the recent Austrian GP at the Red Bull Ring.
“We are taking note of this increased presence very positively,” Marko said.
And he admits that could work in Albon’s favour.
“Albon was always fast and he’s in top form at the moment,” said the 80-year-old Austrian.
When asked if Albon is a candidate to return to Red Bull Racing, Marko smiled: “We are always in contact with him.”