Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Spa-Francorchamps, 2018

Alonso explains why he turned down five approaches from Red Bull

2018 Belgian Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso has again challenged Christian Horner’s claims over his contact with Red Bull, describing how he turned the team down on five occasions.

The pair have traded remarks throughout the Belgian Grand Prix weekend since Alonso said he turned down an offer to replace Daniel Ricciardo at the team for the 2019 F1 season, a claim Horner disputes.

Yesterday Horner said Alonso had only been offered a drive at Red Bull in 2007. But Alonso said this contradicts previous remarks Horner has made.

“I know that he commented yesterday that he only offered me a contract in 2007,” he told media including RaceFans. “While last year he was doing an interview for the Red Bull TV saying that he offered me a couple of occasions the seat to driver and if I had accepted in 2009 or 2011 or 2013 when he did I’d probably be a four-times world champion.

“But on Friday apparently he offered me only in 2007. So he’s answering the truth already. You don’t need to add anything on that.”

Alonso said he has turned down “four or five offers” from Red Bull over the years, starting in 2007, when he chose to return to Renault after leaving McLaren.

“In 2007 I had a tough decision to make after McLaren. I had Red Bull, I had Toyota and I had Renault coming back. I chose Renault because they were family to me at that time. Red Bull in 2007 they were not very competitive and Toyota also were struggling.”

Towards the end of his second stint at Renault, Alonso considered a change of teams again. “In 2009 it was a little bit of a stressful time. I had four days to decide.

“I was talking quite seriously with Ferrari. At that time I thought Ferrari was the safest thing, the best choice for the future. I’m still proud to make that decision. Maybe if you had a crystal ball you change this opinion but if not you will not say no to Ferrari in 2009.”

Alonso said Red Bull approached him on two occasions while he was at Ferrari. “In 2011 and ’13 I think it was more about [Mark] Webber being always in doubt at this part of the year. Always around Spa we had normally the meetings.

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“And I was happy in Ferrari. We were maybe not winning the championship but at the same time it seems that in Ferrari we were not competitive and it is a long time we were not winning but we were three times second in the world championship. In 2012, here, we lost the championship at the start without being anywhere in our hands.

“In all the offers that I had after that still Ferrari in my heart and I believed that the following year was the good one.”

While Horner has denied making an offer for 2019, Alonso said he turned the team down because he doesn’t believe they will be in contention for victories next year,

“I had other offers as well. [But] I don’t think my targets or my challenges for next year were any more in Formula 1 at this point. The offers that I had, including that one, they were not for winning.

“Probably all the offers I had on performance are more than one second away from pole positions, as we saw today. To be fifth or sixth or seventh or whatever I think they will not be the same challenges or the same enthusiasm that I can find anyway from Formula 1 in 2019.

“So I made my decision a couple of months ago and I’m extremely happy with that.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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43 comments on “Alonso explains why he turned down five approaches from Red Bull”

  1. This so childish. Get over it both of you!

    1. @huhhii Precisely. This is just getting old already.

    2. He is being put away as a liar in the media and he’s challenging it to save his image. Rightfully so.

      1. @spafrancorchamps I highly doubt this constant arguing will do him any favors. Continuing with his career instead of nagging would be wiser move if Alonso cares about his image.

      2. I agree. Horner made it personal when he proclaimed Alonso causes chaos. He didn’t need to go there.
        Whether true or not, he could/should have said RBR wasn’t interested in him and left it at that.
        Judging from Horner’s abrasive remarks, I can’t help but think Alonso turned them down. Why else criticize the guy when he is leaving F1.
        Alonso using doesn’t respond to cheap shots – such as when Horner told the world ALO should see a psychiatrist for wanting to drive Indy.
        Speaking of driver’s causing chaos, RBR better perform up to Max’ expectations next year or there will be hell to pay from him and daddy.
        Alonso should be the furthest thing on his mind.

  2. Teenaged lovers who’ve fallen out have lesser drama than this pair. ☺️

  3. Alonso flops since 12 years.
    After Singapore…. well they still let him back.

    But he couldn’t overtake Petrov or Maldonado…..

    And in 2018 Alonso is exiting F1 with a feud over the press…

    LOL

    1. @myst

      But he couldn’t overtake Petrov

      …It was Abu Dhabi. VET couldn’t overtake a ROS backed into him a couple of years ago.

      Maldonado…..

      …neither could the rest of the grid

      And in 2018 Alonso is exiting F1 with a feud over the press…

      …I guess fair enough.

      1. Vettel didn’t want to overtake Rosberg. He said as much. No way he was going to help Hamilton hit 5 championships before he did.

  4. Ladies, ladies! You’re both beautiful.

  5. Every team regularly explores different options. According to Christian Horner himself, “When Mark Webber left in 2013 it was going to be a disaster. We considered Kimi Raikkonen, we considered all the drivers […]”

    So it is very likely that Red Bull casually talked to Alonso or his management to understand his contract situation ie. whether he could become available, just in case. That does not mean Alonso was ever even in the top three on their list.

    However, according to Alonso’s version, Red Bull always desperately wanted to sign him and never cared about the potential side effects of having ‘two roosters’ (Alonso & Vettel or Alonso & Verstappen) at the team. However, they always wanted only Alonso, not any other top driver, not even Hamilton. While Red Bull could not sign him, they became depressed; so depressed that they hired Kvyat at the end of 2014. They were, however, always ready to throw even Ricciardo or Webber out, if only Fernando had said yes.

    I do not miss Bernie’s controversial statements at all, this is more fun.

  6. Not sure about current developments but I just finished Adrian Newey’s book, and he says Alonso was considered in the late stage of their dominant era, so not just in 2007

    1. That says nothing about serious offers. They probably considered half the field.

  7. Surely if this Horner interview with Red Bull TV he refers to exists, it would lay this tit-for-tat to rest? I suppose it might not be archived anywhere, though.

    1. @effulgency I do not remember such an interview and I am pretty sure it would have been reported by other media, too.

      Last year Horner talked to Motor Sport about trying to sign Alonso in the past but Horner’s version of events is very different.

  8. Alonso is a seriously disturbed individual obsessed with his legacy.

    RBR wanting Alonso makes no sense.

    It goes against their philosophy of putting young drivers in their program and having the best graduate through the junior and senior team. It undermines the entire program.

    1. Remember that that philosophy has great ROI, whereas Alonso is not the most desirable NPV.

      1. On the other hand – it’s been a system that’s wasted seats, wasted car potential and cut short careers.
        I don’t think any of these players have their idiomatic philosophies tattooed on. If a driver problem or opportunity presents they’d explore all options well – and between the two teams they’ve been in stopgap mode for a few years now.
        Redbull do OK flogging bubble-water++ to the plebs I think they’d find a way to make it a commercial success. They seemed happy enough with Vettel whose hardly a rock star.
        There’s no doubt the feelers went out on each occasion – the only thing being spun here is what exactly constitutes an offer.
        Horner pretty much called him a liar and Fred doesn’t need to keep RB sweet any more.

    2. Read Newey’s book – they did want Alonso.
      You’ll see how much sense it would have made to keep RIC or sign ALO when you watch two kids (VER and GAS) having to learn the hard way.

    3. They did want him, especially Newey. He admitted it.

    4. Slagging an F1 double champion as someone having mental problems based on known untruths and ignorance is disturbing. Going to such lengths as diagnosing champions based on nothing shows it’s most likely you who are disturbed..

  9. Gasly got the seat, Horner can’t risk demotivating his driver by admitting all the backroom discussion he had. Though, it’s classic Alonso to turn down a 2019 red bull drive, they’ll probably win both championships now.

    1. suuuuuure they do, they’re finally linked to, well Honda ..
      I watched RTL’s qualifying session today and I seriously could not stop laughing when Danner said that he doesn’t understand Ricciardo’s move away from soon to be RB-Honda to Renault..

    2. @emu55: Good summary. And yes, this definitely means Red Bull win both championships next year. Don’t ask me how, though, I still cannot explain how Ferrari didn’t win anything between 2010 and 2014.

  10. Christian Horner made the right decision.

  11. Can we fact check alonso’s comments about what horner has or has not said about hiring alonso?

  12. It’s one thing to offer someone a job, it’s quite another to offer them a contract. This is so silly. Not doing Alonso any favours this.

    1. Do you really think Alonso cares who thinks what about him?

      1. This is all about ego and, yes, that’s about what others think of you.

  13. Can’t wait for tomorrow when Alonso tells us about the 17 times Red Bull offered him a seat.

    1. But it was a deck chair … everytime.

      1. Flavio refused on principals!

  14. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
    25th August 2018, 22:28

    The fact that Alonso may know about some obscure interview that involves a mention of himself, which may or may not have ever been published, is very telling.

    Alonso is a very ego-driven individual. He is leaving F1 because he has run out of options, as a result of burnt bridges. It feels as if he is grasping at straws to convince himself (and the media/fans) that he still has/had a place in F1 and he’s leaving on his own accord and not because he’s run out of options.

    1. I think he’s leaving F1 because he has had enough of this politically driven, cutthroat business that is uncompetitive for all but a couple and boring for most of the fans. And it isn’t going to get better anytime soon – much like McLaren.
      It’s a microcosm of the European Union.

    2. @braketurnaccelerate

      The ‘burnt bridges’ theory is interesting as Alonso’s biggest ‘burn’ was being a kind of whislteblower at McLaren in 2007, they rehired him in the end anyway.
      After 200 he was talking to Red Bull and Ferrari who didn’t seem to have a problem with his biggest ‘burn’. Just like Andretti and Toyota havn’t noticed any problems either.

      Looking closer, its Mercedes who have the problem.
      Let’s think about it. they were involved in che@ting and it was Alonso who cost them money and so called ‘bad publicity’ . This tells us that Mercedes would’ve rather the ‘spying’ continued and Alonso not opened his mouth. Nice.
      Look at Mercedes with their precious ‘road relevence’ obsession. They’re now embroiled in the road car emissions che@ting and a new scandal in Germany of price fixing amongst other corrupt1on.
      This season Mercedes have probably made more mistakes than Alonso has in his driving career. Unlike Ron Dennis the management there can’t handle two top tier drivers at once. So are not in the same league as Alonso anyway.
      So who’s really the bad or weak one?

      As mentioned by a poster in another article, the owners of teams own the sport and do what they want. These individuals have their own grudges and are not better people than the drivers who the fans love to hate.

      1. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
        26th August 2018, 10:26

        Burnt bridges do not have to be exclusively between two parties. You can burn multiple bridges as a result of one’s actions.

        His decision to not sign with Red Bull in 2007 was a burnt bridge, whether petty or not. His decision to play hardball with Ferrari in 2014 was also another burnt bridge. Once Ferrari signed Vettel as a result of Alonso’s decisions, there was no going back to Ferrari.

        Whether McLaren and Alonso really patched things up or not is another story. Honda really wanted Alonso, and $130m and $40m a year, respectively, can make people do crazy things.

  15. Sir, let go of my arm. I’m not interested. Sir, please.

  16. Carbon handbags at dawn.

  17. So Horner not only spoke badly of Alonso but also lied.
    I’m glad RIC got away from them.
    I wonder why Newey’s stays there.

    1. Dieter pays well. no cameras in his face.

  18. I wonder when in 2009 that the offer was made (before the season started or during)? Red Bull seemed to have potential before 2009, but they showed their class during 2009, finishing as the class of the field

  19. Don’t know, but it could be that both parties are right, given what they say. I mean, RBR probably talked to many drivers to see what’s going on – ALO included, but each of them tought that they’re the ONLY driver RBR talked to. So, given his big ego too, ALO probably thought RBR talked only with him, in reality RBR talking to many drivers, Maldonado included.

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