Fernando Alonso has not won a race since 2013 (Photo: Getty)
Fernando Alonso came ‘very close’ to signing for Red Bull in 2008, team principal Christian Horner has revealed.
The two-time F1 champion is enjoying somewhat of a career renaissance in 2023 with the Aston Martin driver third in the standings having finished on the podium in five of the opening seven races.
It is hoped and expected that he will end a decade long wait for his next win at some stage this year and if his team continue their radical upwards trajectory, it is entirely possible he could even challenge for the title in the next few seasons.
Considered one of the most talented drivers in the sport’s history, Alonso won the championship in 2005 and 2006 with Renault and has come agonisingly close to adding a third on multiple occasions, namely in 2007 with McLaren and 2010 and 2012 with Ferrari.
Poor career choices have been blamed for him not winning more titles and races, with his second spells at Renault and McLaren proving to be disastrous while Ferrari were unable to match their rivals during his time there.
But it all could have been so different had he taken a leap of faith with Red Bull, with Horner revealing the truth behind the rumours that the Spaniard nearly signed for his team.
‘We were very close. I went to see his representation agency at the end of 2007 to [sign him] for the 2008 and 2009 seasons, we offered him a two-year contract,’ Horner told Motorsport Magazin.
Christian Horner has run Red Bull since their inception in 2005 (Photo: Getty)
‘He only wanted to sign for one season, but Red Bull and [Dietrich] Mateschitz’s position was two years or nothing, and he didn’t commit to it. We thought he had a very clear contract to go to Ferrari in 2009.
‘The strange thing is that Flavio [Briatore] was also involved, but he was trying to sign him for the Renault team, the team he was running at the time, and in the end, he ended up driving for Renault those two seasons.
‘However, in the middle of 2009, I was approached to say that he could join the team next year because we would win the next World Championship with that car.
‘Then we had another conversation in the back of an Alfa Romeo at Spa airport many years later, I think it was in 2011 or 2012. But again, the most serious negotiation was the first one, and then he missed the opportunity.’
It is easy to see why Alonso would have had doubts over committing to Red Bull given they were nowhere in 2007, but it was in 2009 that they began their ascendency to the front of the grid, with Sebastian Vettel winning four straight titles between 2010 and 2013.
And given that he is still racing now at the age of 41, it is entirely possible that had he taken the chance to join Red Bull back then, he would still be driving for them now and directly battling Max Verstappen for the title.
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‘We offered him a two-year contract.’