Ahead of second practice for the Dutch Grand Prix, Horner revealed that both Williams and Alfa Romeo have shown interest in signing Albon for the 2022 season.

Horner said that a full-time return to the grid could be resolved within the next week for Albon, who has acted as Red Bull’s reserve and test driver this season after losing his seat to Sergio Perez at the end of last year.

Speaking to Sky Sports after FP2, Horner suggested that Mercedes could try and block Albon going to Williams due to his links to Red Bull.

“We’re working hard to get him a seat,” Horner said. “I really hope that Mercedes don’t block his opportunity at Williams, that would be a great, great shame.”

Asked why Mercedes would prevent Albon moving to Williams, Horner replied: “Well because of his linkage to Red Bull. So it would be a great shame if a driver were to pay the penalty for that.

“Hopefully that won’t come to play but there are opportunities at a couple of teams and our priority is to see him racing next year.

“If he can’t do that, we’ll keep him in a test and reserve role because we rate him extremely highly.”

Newly-crowned Formula E champion and Mercedes reserve Nyck de Vries is also vying for an F1 seat and has been linked to Williams and Alfa Romeo. Toto Wolff said he was keen to ensure de Vries remained a part of the Mercedes family if he did secure a drive for 2022.

Horner also revealed that Albon’s preferred destination would be Williams but claimed Mercedes has been trying to persuade the Anglo-Thai racer otherwise.

“Alfa and Williams are the two showing a lot of interest,” Horner said. “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.”

Horner added he had told Albon “to ignore” any interfering from Mercedes.