Fernando Alonso waves to the crowd before the Belgium GP. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Fernando Alonso waves to the crowd before the Belgium GP. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Why Alonso rejected Red Bull

FERNANDO Alonso said he was approached by Red Bull six times during his career - including twice this year - and rejected the team every time.

But why?

Red Bull enjoyed one of F1's most dominant eras at the start of the decade, at a time when Alonso was at the peak of his powers.

It could have been a match made in heaven, and one that surely would have seen the Spaniard collect more than just two world championships.

But while Red Bull team boss Christian Horner maintains he only offered the driver a seat once, in 2007, Alonso stuck to his story when speaking to reporters at the Belgian GP, and went into detail about why he turned the team down.

2007

Where was Alonso?

Alonso arrived at McLaren in 2007 as F1's youngest double champion, but a controversial year - when he partnered Lewis Hamilton - both on and off the track meant the sport's leading light was effectively a free agent at the end of the season.

Where were Red Bull?

Red Bull only entered the sport in 2005 and only had one podium to their name - and no wins - by the time they offered Alonso a contract.

Alonso's reasoning

"At that time, to be honest, I had a tough decision to make at McLaren. I had Red Bull, I had Toyota, and I had Renault coming back.

"I chose Renault just because they were family to me at that time, and Red Bull in 2007 were not very competitive, and Toyota were also struggling."

2009

Where was Alonso?

Alonso's claimed only two victories in his two years back at Renault and one of those - the 2008 Singapore GP - was once again shrouded in controversy. In 2009, Alonso only had one podium and finished ninth in the championship.

Where were Red Bull?

There were huge changes to the technical regulations in 2009 and Red Bull made a promising start to the era, finishing second in the standings behind runaway champions Brawn. Drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber took a combined six victories.

Alonso's reasoning

"It was a little bit of a stressful time - I had four days to decide.

"I was talking quite seriously with Ferrari, and at that time I thought Ferrari was the safest thing and the best choice for the future and I'm still proud to make that decision.

"Maybe if you had a crystal ball you'd change that opinion, but you would not say no to Ferrari in 2009."

2011 and 2013

Where was Alonso?

Alonso was competitive again at Ferrari, but not quite competitive enough to bring a title back to Maranello. The 2012 season, which went down to the final race as Alonso narrowly missed out on the title, may have given him hope for future glory.

Where were Red Bull?

Vettel won four successive drivers' titles from 2010 to 2013, with Red Bull the dominant constructor, but there were doubts over his teammate Mark Webber's future. There were new engine-friendly regulations on the way in 2014.

Alonso's reasoning

"I think it was more about [Mark] Webber at this time. He was always in doubt at this part of the year, around Spa, when there were many meetings.

"But I was happy at Ferrari.

"We were maybe not winning the championship and sometimes we weren't competitive and it was a long time that we were not winning, but we were second in the championship three times."

 

2018

Where's Alonso?

Alonso has endured four disastrous years back at McLaren as first the Honda partnership backfired, before the Renault engine deal failed to deliver results. The team have failed to score a single podium since Alonso's return, prompting him to explore other opportunities and consider his retirement.

Where are Red Bull?

Red Bull may well have the best chassis in F1 and have three victories this year, but their Renault engine has been unable to match Mercedes or Ferrari's. Next year they are switching, coincidentally, to Honda power, while Daniel Ricciardo told the team he was leaving for Renault in 2019.

Alonso's reasoning

Alonso told Sky F1: "I did not stay because winning now there are only two teams [Mercedes and Ferrari] and they continue with their drivers for the following years."

Alonso then told reporters: "I didn't think that my targets or challenges next year were in Formula 1 anymore.

"The offers that I had were not, let's say, for winning. The only offers I had were for teams who are more than one second off pole position.

"To be fifth, sixth, or seventh, I think there will not be the same challenges or the same enthusiasm that I can find away from Formula 1 in 2019. I made my decision a couple of months ago and I'm happy about that."

Alonso: Horner knows the truth

Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

The back-and-forth between Alonso and Red Bull started after Christian Horner said Alonso would not be the "healthiest" fit for the team because he has a tendency to cause "chaos" wherever he has driven.

Alonso demanded an apology from a team principal he claimed had "chased" him for much of his career, before then revealing how many times he had rejected Red Bull.

Red Bull team chief Horner, however, insisted Alonso was only offered a deal over a decade ago.

But Alonso said: "The truth is there - I know he said he only offered me a contract in 2007.

"But last year he did an interview with Red Bull TV saying he had offered me a seat to drive on a couple of occasions and if I had accepted in 2009, or 2010, or 2013, I'd probably be a four-time world champion.

"But apparently he only offered it to me in 2007! So he seems to know the truth already."

This article was originally published by Sky Sports and reproduced with permission.



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