With George Russell expected to replace Valtteri Bottas as Lewis Hamilton’s new teammate next season, ex-Red Bull racer Albon has been linked with the potential opening at Williams.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner claimed on Friday that Mercedes was attempting to block Albon from joining Williams, something Wolff later denied.

However, speaking after qualifying for the Dutch Grand Prix, Wolff admitted Mercedes would expect Albon to be completely “free” from his Red Bull contract if he was to drive for its customer team.

“It’s one thing about the power unit and I think Albon, as I said yesterday, is a driver that deserves a seat in Formula 1,” Wolff said. “But it’s tricky to have a 100% Red Bull driver on a Mercedes power unit.

“So, happy to work with him, as long as they let him free from his Red Bull contract. And on the other side, we’re supporting Nyck de Vries obviously, and he’s in talks with Williams, to get the seat there. So there are quite some balls in the air.”

Horner also suggested that Mercedes personnel had been calling Albon directly to try and put him off his “preference” of returning to the grid with Williams.

Asked to shed some light on what Horner meant by his comments, Wolff said: “Alex is in regular contact with Gwen Lagrue, who is running our Mercedes junior programme, and they were discussing with James Vowles, our head of strategy, the opportunities for next year.

“Things get always… tweaked, in a way. He wasn’t told to do or not do anything, it was just exploring the opportunities for Alex and for Nyck in an amicable way between Alex and the group.”

Wolff also confirmed there would be no contractual stumbling blocks standing in the way of Mercedes Formula E world champion Nyck de Vries driving for Ferrari-powered Alfa Romeo.

“Nyck is his own free agent,” Wolff explained. “He is a Mercedes works driver in Formula E, but I will never stand in the way for Nyck to drive in Formula 1.

“We have no management contract with him, neither do we have an option of taking him back in. Therefore, Nyck can drive in anything.”