Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner admits that Fernando Alonso was “very close” to becoming a Red Bull driver for the 2009 season.
The boss of the Milton Keynes based team revealed that they held talks with Alonso’s management over a deal to join for the 2009 Formula 1 season, but a deal was never finalised due to disagreement over contract lengths.
Since winning his double world championships with Renault F1, Alonso has joined two spells with the McLaren Formula 1 Team, a second spell at Renault and five years at Scuderia Ferrari but could never find similar success to add to his already two world titles.
Alonso’s career and the sport itself could have been very different if a deal had been agreed, as Horner said to Motor Sport Magazine that he and Helmut Marko held talks with Alonso’s manager and Renault team boss at the time, Flavio Briatore over a possible deal.
“We got very close to signing Alonso. Helmut and I went to see his management at the end of 2008 for the ’09 and ’10 season, and we offered him a two-year contract.” said Horner.
“He would only sign up for one year and we said Red Bull’s position was a two-year deal or nothing, and he wouldn’t commit to that. We thought he’d had a Ferrari contract very clearly for ’09.”
“What was weird about that was that Flavio was involved as well, but he was trying to get him for Renault which he was managing at the time and in the end, he drove for Renault for 10 years.”
Despite negotiations failing in 2008 in a bid to move away from Renault in 2009, Alonso called back to Red Bull to switch mid-way through the season, in a last-ditch attempt to move into a title fight.
“Halfway through 2009, I had an approach to say ‘could he join mid-season?’ because they thought he could win the championship in the car,” Horner continued.
“Then he had another conversation in the back of an Alfa Romeo at Spa airport several years later in ’11 or ’12. The most serious discussion was the first one, and then it missed its chance.”