Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Albert Park, 2018

Alonso claims Red Bull tried to sign him twice for 2019

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In the round-up: Fernando Alonso claims Red Bull made two offers for him to join them for the 2019 F1 season, despite team principal Christian Horner previously stating that bringing Alonso into the team wouldn’t be the “healthiest” move.

What they say

Alonso later confirmed the team he referred to in this answer was Red Bull:

From one of these top three teams… I had the offer a couple of times already this year. It was not the case for me to join that adventure.

At the moment Formula 1 is not giving me probably the challenges that I’m looking for at the moment. Outside Formula 1 I’m discovering different series in motorsport that give you different challenges and make you a more complete driver and it’s what I will try to find in 2019.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Force India has been saved but it’s come at a price:

Glad that a way forward has been found, even if it is an awful compromise and an even worse name.

Worst news in my opinion is the loss of Bob Fernley. That’s a massive blow; he’s been a stalwart figure in the team and in my opinion one of the best in the business.
@Mazdachris

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On this day in F1

  • 15 years ago today Fernando Alonso scored his first F1 victory at the Hungaroring

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  • 51 comments on “Alonso claims Red Bull tried to sign him twice for 2019”

    1. I wonder if they would have required him to start at the bottom; STR.

      1. Yeah, with Ricciardo’s departure apparently being totally unexpected, and Verstappen already locked in, what were they planning on doing with him?

        1. Of course Ricciardo leaving the team was not unexpected; only the ‘to Renault’ bit.

        2. Maybe with Alonso, a Renault ( and Flavio as consultant) another WDC possible?

    2. Odd story.

      Well in general, facts don’t matter these days. So everybody is entitled to have his/her own reality / fantasy / lies

      1. ‘Truth isn’t truth’

      2. Difficult to understand Alonso’s reasoning, presuming he’s a source of perpetual truth of course. If, as he claimed last week, he would have stayed in Formula 1 had McLaren built a top-team-bothering car, why not take the chance to go to a top-team-bothering car? Twice? It’s not as though team loyalty has ever been a factor.

        1. @david-br
          He left Ferrari because he was tired of coming second at best, and because he had lost his faith in their promises to achieve a breakthrough.
          Red Bull haven’t had a shot at the title in almost 5 years now, and now they’re switching to Honda. Even Ricciardo has lost his faith in them.
          So, from Alonso’s point of view, where it doesn’t really matter if he finishes 15th or 3rd, as long as he has no realistic chance of fighting for the championship, I can definitely understand why he would consider Red Bull a waste of time.

          1. I can definitely understand why he would consider Red Bull a waste of time.

            Waste of time, really? Red Bull have won races this year, if you recall. If Honda get the engine right – free of McLaren’s OCD micro-management – then they’ll be a match for Ferrari and McLaren. I doubt he’d seriously turn Red Bull down unless they were unwilling to meet his ‘first driver’ demands, which presumably would be the case. More likely that any contract discussions stopped right there.

            1. @david-br

              Waste of time, really?

              Well, yes. That sentence doesn’t stand on its own, I typed it as a part of a longer reply for a reason.

              Red Bull have won races this year, if you recall.

              fyi, I do not live under a rock. I’ve seen these races, all races so far, to be precise, so I know that these good results don’t change the fact that Red Bull aren’t any closer to winning a title than Ferrari were in 2013 or even 2014. Alonso jumped the ship after those seasons, which is why I mentioned his Ferrari time to put things into context. He simply isn’t interested in driving around another year without fighting for the title, listening to the same old story of ‘Oh, but next year’, a.k.a. wasting his time.

              If Honda get the engine right then they’ll be a match for Ferrari and McLaren.

              That’s a big ‘if’ if I ever saw one. And even if that ‘if’ were to materialise, how quickly can it happen? Right now, even the most optimistic statements from Red Bull’s side translate to ‘it’s more or less as good as the Renault engine’, which, according to Red Bull themselves, would mean it’s miles off the pace set by Mercedes and Ferrari. And there are good reasons to believe that this is in fact an embellished version of the truth. Not to mention that the outright power deficit is Honda’s least concern. They’re still going through their engine components like a nervous student goes through a pack of chewing gums. Both Toro Rossos are in a league of their own when it comes to the number of engine components they’ve used. We’ve barely made it to the second half of the season, and Brendon Hartley is already using his 8th ICE. 8. After 11 races. That’s an engine change every 1.4 races, i.e. too short to make it through the season penalty-free by a factor of 5. And that’s not even accounting for the fact that both Toro Rosso drivers have covered 30% less distance in the races than Hamilton or Vettel have. All in all, Honda have to improve their reliability by a factor of 4 to 6 to get in the mix with the big names.
              I’m just not seeing it.

              free of McLaren’s OCD micro-management

              I don’t think that’s quite the right reproach. If anything, the communication between Honda and Renault was lacking on all levels, so the absence of coordinated management was what hurt them the most at the end of the day.
              However, it is true that McLaren’s ‘size zero’ approach was as harmful as it sounded. But it’s not like Red Bull and Adrian Newey are known for designing cars that emphasise the well-being of an engine over aerodynamic considerations. Quite the opposite, actually. If anything, Red Bull have become famous for their toxic relationship with Renault and their extreme approaches that regularly produce high levels of downforce, yet their cars tend to suffer the most engine-related issues of all Renault teams. In that respect, Red Bull is just like McLaren – but on Red Bull.

              In other words: In order to become an interesting short-term option for Alonso and his ‘all or nothing’ attitude, Honda would have to: a) increase their engine’s power output (significantly), b) improve their reliability (enormously), and Red Bull would have to change their approach with regards to engine integration (completely), without sacrificing their cars’ trademark downforce (unrealistically).

              And voilà, these are the reasons why Ricciardo went to Renault and Red Bull are denying they even spoke to Alonso. They might stay the 3rd team in F1, but their chances of success, and therefore their attractiveness, have taken a nosedive.

            2. @nase Thanks for the detailed reply, I just don’t understand why you’re so pessimistic for Red Bull’s immediate future, given they’ve just one less win than Ferrari this season and any decline is largely down to Renault failures in the second quarter of the season. True a Honda improvement next season is an unknown, but it seems to me that Alonso in a car that can win races – with the teams converging – offers a better chance of a title than he’s had for years at McLaren. And indeed some of the time at Ferrari. Why not race for Red Bull next year and see what happens? Your right on my comment about McLaren, badly phrased, I indeed meant their tight control of engine specifications and ‘size zero’ approach, not micromanagement of their relation with Honda.

            3. I agree, david, alonso refusing red bull sounds downright silly, even if there’s no chance on a title next year (and who says it’s also true for 2020?), surely after all these years of points-only and not even a podium he wouldn’t mind going for some race wins? Sounds odd he declined them.

    3. So new team this weekend. Why not strtthe engine usage at zero? They lost all their points! Should not have it both ways.

      1. Agree!
        Although it probably states somewhere that when drivers switch teams they can’t benefit from extra PU’s.
        Not sure what they did when Verstappen switched with Kvyat.

        1. @coldfly Hartley starting at the end of last season had to serve loads of engine penalties so I guess it is the car entry, not the driver that gets the penalties/usage allocation.

        2. @coldfly He, of course, started to use Kvyat’s original PU element allocation for that season and vice versa. Although @tonyyeb has pointed it out to a certain extent already here it is explained in a more detailed manner: Concerning the STR-driver changes towards the end of last season: First, Gasly, when he replaced Kvyat for Malaysia and Japan, started to use his original PU element allocation while Hartley then continued from that from the US GP onwards. When Kvyat came back for one more race at COTA, he got Sainz’s original allocation, and then, Gasly continued from where Kvyat had left with that particular allocation when he returned to STR in Mexico, so, yes, it’s about car entry rather than the driver.

          1. Thanks guys, @tonyyeb, @jerejj.
            Then I think Racing Point Force India should start at first components.

            1. @coldfly Technically I agree with you especially as the team has lost their championship points. However bit unfair in terms of the WDC as both Perez and Ocon can really max out their engines and even have more of whatever new spec Mercedes bring later in the year. It’s a tough one. My gut is the FIA will have them stick to their original allocation. Plus Mr Stroll will likely be paying out for more engines than he was expecting otherwise!

            2. Agree with the ‘bit unfair’ part, and I think I resolved it technically/legally.
              – Points & Money go to the team as entered in the championship. New team (Racing Point Force India) thus new points & money arrangements
              – Penalties are linked to the car (Chassis-PU combination) which the team uses. The new team uses the old FI car (it is still called ‘Force India-Mercedes’ as in the original FIA entry list) and are thus stuck with the usage and penalty counts of that specific car.

    4. Solid point.

      Bizarre claim by Alonso.

      Rumour mill, start turning

    5. Horner: We’d never sign Alonso.
      Alonso: Red Bull approached me.

      I know one of them is lying, but I’m damned if I can guess who.

      1. @phylyp I think it may be somewhere in between. In that, Red Bull did maybe contact Alonso’s representatives but wasn’t really planning on signing him. Probably just some talks to understand more about his situation for 2019 in case Gasly wasn’t performing as expected. I’m sure teams contact a lot of drivers to have options and know more about the driver market, but doesn’t mean that they want to sign them. Wolff admitted that Mercedes contacted/were contacted by most of the grid when Roserg retired, but they were probably only considering a select few.

      2. I got the impression red bull contacted Alonso and then when he said no they went public and said what they said

      3. It’s the same when Alonso had his accident in testing. Medical staff: he was unconscious. Fernando: I was awake the whole time!?

      4. He doesn’t say Red Bull, my moneys on Ferrari trying to convince him to take Raikkonen’s role, but it’d be true #2 status like Raikkonen and he didn’t want it.

        1. @skipgamer – the direct quote that is quoted verbatim doesn’t mention RBR, but the introductory text preceding it states:

          Alonso later confirmed the team he referred to in this answer was Red Bull

          1. Oh… That’s odd then, my apologies.

      5. Even if they approched him to say “don’t even think about joining us and Honda” – it was an approach in ALO land.

    6. You know, people lay into Alonso for making wrong moves at the wrong time, granted, most didn’t work out as he had hoped for but riddle me this, why did Jenson leave Brawn GP for McLaren???

      1. Because Ross Brawn didnt want him

        1. Because Daimler were buying the majority shareholding of BrawnGP, which was only ever going to be around for the one season (that’s all they had the finance for, and Mercedes wanted to build Team Deutschland (at the time)).

          Or, it could genuinely be because Jenson wanted to do what he said he was going there to do, which was put himself up against Lewis. Which also nicely made McLaren Team GB.

      2. That was one of the smartest moves. Which team performed better in 2010?

        1. exactly, he had a (slim) shot at the title that year and a great year in 2011 (though no chance of the title). if he’d stayed at brawn/merc he would have had some trifling point scores before shuffling off to a midfield team. button’s mclaren years were some of his best.

      3. Because that was the only chance Button had of being “promoted” as a WDC.

    7. I’d wager Redbull contacted Alonso to scare Ricciardo into signing but had no real intention of actually signing him. So RBR was just using Alonso as a pawn in the contract dance with Ricciardo. Alonso probably figure that out the he was just being used and declined the approach.

      1. @pking008 Redbull would be naive to not see how disenfranchised Ricciardo has been with the team, I’d say any attempts to scare him would knowingly be futile.

    8. He says one of the top three teams? Did I miss somewhere he said Red Bull? Ferrari makes a lot more sense to replace Raikkonen, whereas Vettel wouldn’t want Ricciardo with him.

      1. And Vettel would be chilled with Alonso as a team-mate? Oops, there goes a rib!

        Thing is Vettel can only hold off having Leclerc in a Ferrari for so long. When that guy gets promoted things could get very interesting. Like ‘McLaren 2007’-level interesting if we’re lucky.

    9. At least Alonso has the greatest dreams, or dreams of being the greatest.. not sure ;)

      Maybe, president of the United states next?

    10. Caption for SA tweet:
      “Come on Nico, it was only one”

    11. I actually think Alonso is telling the truth. There was a lengthy delay between Ricciardo leaving and Red Bull announcing Gasly. I was convinced they were investigating other options. When Webber left, there was a delay before signing Ricciardo, because they were looking at Raikkonen. When Vettel left, they signed Kvyat immediately. To me this shows that when they’re 100% sure who’s “next in line”, they’ll waste no time.

      1. I didn’t think there was much delay at all. Gasly is in the RBR family already. They could have delayed this announcement for two more months if they wanted. Considering they were as surprised as they were at DR’s decision, I thought RBR responded quite quickly.

    12. I hear Sainz got booked 100 down the road for not having his hands on the steering wheel ;)

    13. This is the same guy who tried to blackmail his team into giving him preferential treatment over a teammate, teammate who was beating him in the championship sacked in strange circumstances in 2004, teammate crashed on purpose to help Alonso’s aggressive pit strategy in 2008.

      I wouldn’t put anything past Alonso.

    14. I agree with the COTD.
      – Sainz’s Instagram post, though.

    15. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      24th August 2018, 13:00

      What does Alonso stand to gain by saying that Red Bull approached him for a seat in 2019? I can’t think of anything really. I believe Lewis has made the same comment assuming it wasn’t Ferrari that offered him a spot.

      What does Red Bull stand to gain by denying it? They’ve been blaming Ricciado for suddenly changing his mind when in effect they’ve been 3-timing the guy and were trying to sandwich Lewis and Fernando inside the car with him:-)

      If Alonso and Lewis to an extent are telling the truth, I think this pretty much proves that Ricciardo had already become a #2 driver at Red Bull – they (Red Bull) weren’t asking everyone on the paddock to take Max’s seat in 2019. If this is the case then Daniel made the right choice and Pierre Gasly is pretty much screwed unless the car suits him over Max.

      It also suggests that 3-4 drivers turned down a seat at Red Bull this year – namely Hamilton, Alonso, Ricciardo, and possibly Sainz (he is grateful for the opportunity that RB gave him but has been talking about a divorce for a while now, he would have been doomed at Red Bull which can demote you to TR any day they want). That’s a lot of drivers to not to want to drive for a top team.

      1. @freelittlebirds Sounds like you’re reaching here quite a bit to say that’s a lot of drivers to not want to drive for a top team. As if LH was ever going anywhere. The FA thing is just strange and if he declined a formal offer CH would just say that. Sainz seemed to have harmed his own cause back when he was at STR and claimed publicly he would be gone from there because no driver had been there for more than four years, which sent CH into defence mode questioning where Sainz thought he would be going then because he had a contract with STR. Before long they sent him to Renault. I think it was more the case they didn’t want Sainz, than Sainz didn’t want them. And DR had the toughest decision he had ever had in racing, to leave RBR after 11 years, for Renault.

        So by laying out the facts, we see that rather than a lot of drivers not wanting to drive for this top team, we have one driver who agonized over leaving.

    16. I don’t know if anyone noticed it before, but after Force India’s points were voided this weekend, I searched a bit and found something very odd. We’ve never had a season in which every team and every driver started the season and saw the end of it, without any changes in the line-up at any race or without any points deductions during the course of the season.. EVER

      I remembered there have been a few mid-season changes in the drivers in recent years, but as I went back every year searching, I thought there must have been a season without a change.. until I reached the 90s where it became a mayhem of mid-season moves.

      In 68 seasons of F1, there hasn’t been a single one without a “blip” in the points system. The only ones that came somewhat close in recent history were:
      • 2008 – no mid-season changes in the line-ups but Super Aguri folded after 4 races
      • 2012 – Grosjean banned for one race, replaced be d’Ambrosio

      1. Wow, insane, I wouldn’t really have thought that.

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