Fernando Alonso was “very close” to joining Red Bull to partner a potentially returning Sebastian Vettel, according to team technical boss and designer Adrian Newey.
Ahead of the 2019 season, the Spaniard announced his departure from Formula 1 after a 17-year career which included two world championship victories. Although he has pursued success in other motorsport disciplines, he has constantly been linked with a move back to F1.
He has been linked with near enough every team from Mercedes, to Ferrari again, or even back to McLaren. Newey has revealed that Red Bull was previously an option, too.
“It would have been like Ayrton [Senna] and Alain [Prost],” he told Esquire about Alonso and Vettel teaming up.
“It is one of those things that unfortunately never happened, but it was very close to happening.
“I think we would have had a lot of success all together, but it didn’t work out. Red Bull has generally always tried to follow the policy of developing its own drivers. That was a small consideration.
“We met a couple of times and there were negotiations in Austria. It was close, but in the end it didn’t happen.”
Alonso’s career has arguably been hampered by poor career choices and team selection, but Newey has praised his ability to shine even when not in a competitive car.
“He seems to have had bad luck with some choices he has made, but whenever we have spoken with him, he has been very kind,” the Red Bull engineer added.
“Fernando’s ability often exceeds the car in his hands. I think that’s the mark of a truly great driver — the ability to stand out despite not having a great car,”
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