Fernando Alonso is coming towards the end of his illustrious F1 career and in the past year or so has on occasion begun to sound nostalgic and in reminiscent form. Speaking to ESPN Fernando recounts the time following his first brief spell at McLaren when Red Bull offered him a seat in the Newey designed RB4.
Red Bull at that time was an energy drink, it was not a world championship team,” muses the Spaniard; then admits wryly, “No one has a crystal ball!”
How the modern history of Formula One may have panned out differently had Alonso joined forces with Newey in 2008. An ageing David Coulthard was about to embark on his final year in Formula One and he was partnered by Mark Webber for a second season. However, the team from Milton Keynes season was a disappointment, with them being beaten in the constructors championship by Toro Rosso – who also scored the Red Bull F1 families first race win in at the rain affected Italian GP.
Sebastian Vettel made a name for himself that year at Toro Rosso but had Alonso accepted Red Bull’s offer, the opportunity for Vettel to step up to the big bull car may not have arisen when it did. It also could have been Fernando Alonso winning those four consecutive world titles for Red Bull and not the German, but the double world champion is philosophical about this missed opportunity.
“I don’t regret any decision, because at the time that I made the decisions, my heart told me to take the decisions and I’m happy with them you. I prefer to be a happy man than to have two more trophies in the home.”
It has been suggested that Alonso’s decision to join McLaren was born out of his reflection on what might have been with Red Bull Racing, who at the time like McLaren had little chance of winning much for a year or two. Yet with Newey at the helm, it was destined to all come good as some point.
McLaren too will surely return to the front of the grid – but time may be running out for Alonso who admits he may be out of Formula One just over a years’ time.
“Formula One will be the priority,” says Fernando. “If next year the cars are enjoyable and I feel happy. If not, there will be other categories. I’ve said many times winning the 24 Hour Le Mans will be a nice target for me. And then we will see”.
Alonso has begun to look at his future beyond motorsport too as he is involved in motor safety projects at present in Spain. Race driver management is also a possibility for Fernando because at present he has over 100 kids in his racing school.
Then there is the matter of furthering the Alonso family line which is something Fernando is up for, but he admits this is contingent on “If I find a woman!”
Formula One fans can but imagine what life would have been like had Fernando Alonso not returned to Renault in 2008 but had taken up Red Bull Racing’s offer. Sebastian Vettel may still have forced his way into the big bull team from Toro Rosso but at the expense of Mark Webber – and this would have set up a tantalising partnership during the Newey dominant years of 2010-2013.