Team principal of Red Bull Christian Horner has just revealed that Lewis Hamilton was tempted to leave Mercedes for Red Bull. He was “very keen”, according to the team chief who has recently been accused of being the “bad guy” of Drive to Survive.
Lewis Hamilton has had a very successful career in F1, initially driving for McLaren in 2007 before moving to Mercedes for 2014 after a championship win in 2008. But Horner has now told the Daily Mail that Hamilton was tempted by a seat at Red Bull several times throughout his career.
“Lewis and I have had a couple of conversations over the years,” Horner told the outlet.
“From 2010 to 2013, he was very keen to come and drive for Red Bull. We had Sebastian at that time and to have had two alpha drivers wouldn’t have made sense.”
He admitted that he pushed Hamilton to move to Mercedes and for Mercedes to take on the British driver as Red Bull’s main competition was McLaren at the time, adding that “Niki Lauda was at Mercedes and was very keen to take Lewis and I remember encouraging him to take him.
“We were fighting McLaren and in 2012, they had the fastest car and we felt that Lewis in a McLaren would be more of a threat than in a Mercedes.
“I encouraged Niki to spend the money as Lewis was wavering a little bit. It would be fair to say that backfired on me.”
This came up as the team principal discussed the recent contract accepted by Max Verstappen as he is now tied to the team for the next 5 years at £40million a year.
“We have huge confidence in Max,” Horner continued.
“Otherwise, we would never have committed to that time scale.
“To go to 2028 is almost unheard of in this sport, to commit to a driver for that period of time. He is a massive asset to us.
“He strongly believes in the team and it is down to us to provide him with the tools to get the job done.
“At some point, Lewis will slow down or he’ll stop and, of course, he is going to have a massive challenge with a very competitive young team-mate and hungry team-mate this year who is going to be one of the best drivers on the grid. George Russell is a phenomenal talent.
‘In Max, at 24, we have looked to lock down what we believe will be the purple patch of his career.
‘Having won this first world championship, it relieves an awful lot of pressure. That is in the bank now.
“It is on his CV. He will continue to grow now he has got that first one out of the way. We saw that with Sebastian Vettel.”