Red Bull Formula 1 chief Christian Horner has revealed the team was "very close" to signing Fernando Alonso for the 2009 season after holding talks with his management, only for a disagreement over the length of contract to cause negotiations to break down.

Since winning his last F1 title in 2006 with Renault, Alonso has enjoyed a journeyman career that has seen him enjoy two stints with McLaren, as well as returning to Renault for a second time and spending five seasons at Ferrari, never managing to match his previous level of dominance or success.

History may have been different had Alonso quit Renault after 2008 to join Red Bull for the 2009 season, with Horner revealing to Motor Sport Magazine that he and advisor Helmut Marko held talks with Flavio Briatore over a possible deal for the Spaniard.

"We got very close to signing Alonso. 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," Horner said.

"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 '09.

"What was weird about that was that Flavio was involved as well, but he was trying to get him for Renault which he was managing at the time and in the end, he drove for Renault for 10 years."

The 2008 talks were not the last time a deal between Alonso and Red Bull were discussed, with the Spaniard angling for a move midway through 2009 in a last-ditch attempt to move into the title fight.

"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," Hornersaid.

"Then he had another conversation in the back of an Alfa Romeo at Spa airport several years later in ’11 or ’12.

"The most serious discussion was the first one, and then it missed its chance."

 

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