Reports have surfaced that Red Bull approached two-time F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso to take over Pierre Gasly’s seat after the British Grand Prix, only to be met with a “resounding ‘no’”.
The F1 world is desperate to see Alonso back behind the wheel of an F1 car, but after a frustrating finish with McLaren where he couldn’t challenge for the front of the grid, he has admitted he would only return for the right opportunity.
It was believed he was looking only at the top three teams — Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull — but apparently it seems he’s only looking at the top two.
Live stream the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship on KAYO SPORTS. Every practice, qualifying & race live & anytime in HD. Get your 14 day free trial >
Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo claimed Red Bull contacted Alonso after the British Grand Prix to offer him Gasly’s seat but he was quick to decline.
“Red Bull contacted Alonso in Silverstone to offer him the place of Pierre Gasly,” the newspaper reported.
“It was not Fernando who made the offer to Red Bull, it was the team led by Christian Horner who was interested in the approach. But the answer to the approach was none other than a resounding ‘no’.”
His rejection of Red Bull isn’t a new thing either after the 38-year-old claimed Red Bull had approached him six times during his career and he rebuffed their advances every time.
Red Bull’s Christian Horner had maintained he only offered Alonso a seat in 2007, although he hasn’t spoken on the latest report.
Last week, Red Bull demoted Gasly to Toro Rosso with rookie Alexander Albon handed the keys to one of the most coveted seats in the F1.
Despite reportedly turning down the move to Red Bull, Alonso revealed earlier this year that he would be eager to return to the sport — under the right conditions.
“I had contact with Mercedes in 2016 when Nico Rosberg decided to retire,” Alonso said. “I talked to Toto Wolff but in the end we did not reach a definitive yes. I was at McLaren and it was not easy to find a solution.
“In the future I am open to interesting proposals. If I decide to return to F1 it is only if there is a real chance of winning the world championship.
“I am not interested in projects that start from scratch. I want a winning car right away.”
He also mentioned that he is “not waiting or looking for anyone to call me”.
For someone as respected as Alonso, this is a scathing indictment of where the Red Bulls are, despite Max Verstappen’s charge up the F1 leaderboard.
Having not finished lower than fifth and claimed five podiums including two wins in the 12 races so far this year, Verstappen is currently third in the drivers championship, 69 points behind leader Lewis Hamilton.
Speaking at the Hungarian Grand Prix, Aussie Daniel Ricciardo, who was replaced by Gasly when he left for Renault, said his replacement was “a long way off”.
“Tough one with him because the reality is he is a long way off Max,” Ricciardo said about Gasly. “So on one side, they (Red Bull) are happy with Max but on the other hand I think deep down they know that they could be scoring a lot more points.
“I don’t know what it is at the moment with Pierre because last year he got some big results with Toro Rosso, which was clearly not as good a car as the Red Bull. So a tough one.
“I know Max as a teammate and I didn’t expect Pierre to come out and beat him. I’m not surprised that Max is beating him, but I am surprised at the gap.”
HAMILTON CAUTIOUS OF F1 YOUNG GUNS
Mercedes world champion Lewis Hamilton has said he’s impressed by the development of Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, but he wants a closer battle for the title.
Hamilton leads the drivers championship by 62 to teammate Valtteri Bottas and 69 points back to Verstappen in third. Ferrari’s Leclerc is 118 points back in fifth.
But Hamilton wants a closer battle for the title from the young upstarts.
“We’ve seen a big step with Red Bull. They’ve really taken a leap forward with their (Honda) power unit this year and it’s pretty great to see,” Hamilton told F1.com.
“They’re going to go from strength to strength and Max is naturally just … he’s not a youngster necessarily in the sport anymore. While he’s young, he’s been here for a few years.
“Charles is only in his second season, so he’s grown and I can only see him getting stronger and we’re already seeing some great performances from him this season and that one is definitely one to watch out for.
“I hope it’s close, and I hope it gets closer through the year. I’m always down, I’m always ready.”
Verstappen and Leclerc have admitted they haven’t always been friendly competitors with Leclerc telling Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera about their ‘immature’ feud.
“As children we wouldn’t even say goodbye to each other because we confused the driver with the persona, we were immature,” he said. “Now we no longer mix the two, fortunately.”