Red Bull got 'very close' to signing Alonso
7 November 2017 – Red Bull came "very close" to signing Fernando Alonso, with a two-year contract for 2009 and 2010 turned down, team boss Christian Horner has revealed.
According to Horner, Red Bull met with Alonso's management over the 2008 winter and offered a multi-year deal, only for the Spaniard to insist on a one-year contract.
Red Bull ultimately kept Mark Webber onboard, and promoted Sebastian Vettel in place of David Coulthard, with Alonso moving from Renault to Ferrari for 2010.
"We got very close to signing Alonso," Horner told Motor Sport Magazine in a wide-ranging interview.
"Helmut [Marko] and I went to see his management at the end of 2008 for the 2009 and 2010 season and we offered him a two-year contract.
"He would only sign up for one year and we said Red Bull's position was a two-year deal or nothing, and he wouldn't commit to that.
"We thought he'd had a Ferrari contract very clearly for 2009.
"What was weird about that was that Flavio [Briatore] was involved as well, but he was trying to get him for Renault, which he was managing at the time.
"Halfway through 2009, I had an approach to say, 'Could he join mid-season?', because they thought he could win the championship in the car.
"Then he had another conversation in the back of an Alfa Romeo at Spa airport several years later, in 2011 or 2012, and again it never really…
"The most serious discussion was the first one and then it missed its chance."
Horner reckons Red Bull now has the strongest line-up in Formula 1, with Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.
Verstappen recently signed a new long-term deal, keeping him at the team through 2020, and Horner is hopeful that Ricciardo will eventually follow suit.
"I feel that Max and Daniel represent our best ever pairing in Formula 1 and are currently, probably the best driver pairing on the grid," he commented.
"It's my priority to make sure we retain that, at least until 2020."