It is now more than ten years since Fernando Alonso first entered into serious negotiations with Red Bull. In autumn 2007, the Spaniard, who was unhappy at McLaren, and Red Bull talked about a possible collaboration. “It’s one of those things that unfortunately never happened. But it was very close,” Adrian Newey told Esquire Magazine.
The designer joined Red Bull in 2006 and witnessed the negotiations with Alonso up close. “I think we would have had a lot of success together. But it didn’t work,” he explains, revealing: “We met a couple of times and there were negotiations in Austria. Newey doesn’t explicitly explain what exactly the period is.
According to Helmut Marko, however, negotiations with Alonso were only serious in 2007. A few months ago Marko told ‘Motorsport-Total.com’ that there had been negotiations with Alonso’s manager Luis Garcia Abad. There Alonso’s management made demands that were “very demanding in some areas,” Marko said.
“We said, ‘Okay, let’s look at the details.’ Please send us draft contract requirements. We agreed that it would come within a week. There was nothing in 14 days, not even after three weeks. Then we said to Garcia-Abad, Alonso’s manager: ‘Thank you, we don’t need anything more’, Marko remembers.
“There was a conversation [with Alonso] in 2007, but that led to nothing. After that there was no more offer from our side”, says Marko in the ‘ORF’. Alonso himself, on the other hand, talks about several offers he received from Red Bull over the years. Team boss Christian Horner also confirmed to ‘Motor Sport Magazine’ that Alonso was still being talked to in the following years.
“Helmut and I had talks with his management about 2009 and 2010 at the end of 2008 and offered him a two-year contract,” Horner said. Even after that, they were still in contact several times. Newey’s statements also indicate that there must have been further negotiations after 2007. In the same interview he explains that Alonso almost became Sebastian Vettel’s teammate.
Newey would have liked to work with Alonso
In 2007 and 2008 Vettel still drove for Toro Rosso and only joined the senior team in 2009.
“It would have been like Ayrton [Senna] and Alain [Prost],” said Newey with regard to a possible Vettel/Alonso driver pairing.
In terms of time, the negotiations Newey mentioned would, therefore, be more in line with 2008 and upwards. The only fact is that a cooperation never came about.
“He seems to have been unlucky with some of his decisions,” ponders Newey,
While Alonso remained untitled with Ferrari for the same period. His later return to McLaren in the 2015 season was also unsuccessful, and so the Spaniard left Formula 1 at the end of 2018 without another World Championship title.
In any case, Newey finds it a pity that there has never been a collaboration. Alonso is a driver who always gets out more than the car actually allows. “I think that distinguishes a really great driver,” says Newey, who has already worked with many world champions. Only the best drivers could show outstanding performances “although you don’t have a great car”.
Alonso at Red Bull would definitely have been an interesting scenario – especially with a team mate Sebastian Vettel …