Red Bull Racing principal Christian Horner has revealed how the team nearly signed up two-time world champion Fernando Alonso.
The Spaniard was driving for the Renault F1 team in 2008, but was looking to make a move for the following season.
"We got very close to signing Alonso," Horner told Motor Sport Magazine. He explained how he and Red Bull motorsport consultant Dr Helmut Marko had held talks with Alonso's manager, Flavio Briatore.
"Helmut and I went to see his management at the end of 2008 for the '09 and '10 season, and we offered him a two-year contract."
However, negotiations hit a stumbling block when it emerged that Alonso would only commit to a one-year deal.
"He would only sign up for one year. We said Red Bull’s position was a two-year deal or nothing, and he wouldn’t commit to that."
At the time, Red Bull were casting around for a replacement for David Coulthard, who was retiring from Formula 1 at the end of the season.
After talks with Alonso broke down, the team promoted Sebastian Vettel from the sister Toro Rosso squad to parter Mark Webber.
Horner believed that Alonso probably already a deal in his pocket to drive for Ferrari in 2009. That turned out not to be the case, however.
"Flavio was involved as well, but he was trying to get him for Renault which he was managing at the time," Horner explained. "In the end, he drove for Renault for 10 years."
Another season at Renault proved frustrating for Alonso, however. Horner said that midway through the following year there had been more contact between Red Bull and the driver.
"Halfway through 2009, I had an approach to say ‘Could he join mid-season?’" recalled Horner. "They thought he could win the championship in the car."
Instead, Alonso finally got his long-anticipated race seat at Ferrari for 2010. However, even a couple of years later there were still informal talks about possible talks.
"He had another conversation in the back of an Alfa Romeo at Spa airport several years late," said Horner. "[But] the most serious discussion was the first one, and then it missed its chance."