Fernando Alonso turned down an offer to move to Red Bull for the 2008 season. That is the claim of Spain's El Mundo Deportivo newspaper, reporting that the Spaniard was the energy drink-owned team's "first choice" before he decided instead to return to Renault.
According to correspondent Elvira Gonzalez, Red Bull's talks with Alonso followed the double world champion's acrimonious split with McLaren at the end of 2007. "Fernando Alonso had it in his hands to change the course of his own - and formula one's - history in November 2007," Gonzalez wrote.
But Alonso actually opted to return to Renault, while Red Bull stuck with its existing drivers Mark Webber and David Coulthard. Coulthard was then replaced by a young Sebastian Vettel for 2009, while Alonso left Renault for Ferrari at the end of that season. But in late 2007, Gonzalez claims that Alonso and Red Bull negotiated for "weeks", including a meeting in Madrid involving his manager Luis Garcia Abad, Gerhard Berger and even Dietrich Mateschitz.
Mateschitz reportedly said at the time: "I want him (Alonso), but at least for two years with an option for a third. From what I've heard, Alonso is talking to other teams about a one-year contract. I would rather wait and build a car capable of attracting the greatest drivers in the paddock in 2009," the Austrian billionaire added.
Gonzalez said moving to Toyota, who pulled out of F1 at the end of 2009, was another option for Alonso when he left McLaren. (GMM)