FERNANDO Alonso has revealed he turned down an offer from Renault to return to the team before announcing he will leave F1 at the end of the year.
Having disclosed to Sky Sports F1 that he rejected two approaches from Red Bull to drive for the team next season — although Red Bull have subsequently denied making any such offer — Alonso also confirmed he also received an approach from Renault.
Alonso has twice before driven for the team, winning both of his world championships in 2005 and 2006 as a Renault driver, but it’s likely Renault’s most recent approach came before Daniel Ricciardo’s bombshell decision to join for 2019 alongside Nico Hulkenberg.
“I had the possibility of joining Renault and going back to my two championship team having my last years with my second family there,” Alonso told Sky Sports F1.
“But it was difficult to get the challenge there, fighting for the top six or top ten, compared to the challenges l can get outside of F1. It’s no secret that the triple crown is attractive to me. Those are a little bit more attractive at the moment.”
Although Christian Horner, the Red Bull chief, has continued to insist the team didn’t offer Fernando Alonso a seat In 2019, Horner says Liberty Media did approach the team about signing the Spaniard.
“There was just an inquiry [from Liberty] as to whether we would consider Fernando,” confirmed Horner.
“Which you can understand from a promoter’s point of view: Fernando Alonso is a great asset to Formula One; if he could be in a competitive car I’m sure they would prefer him staying than pursuing his triple crown. I wouldn’t expect them to do anything different.”
Alonso responded to Horner’s comments by reiterating his claim that he was offered Ricciardo’s seat in 2019 by Red Bull:
“From Red Bull, in fact, l had in 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013 and two this year — one in Monaco and one in August,” Alonso has told Sky F1.
“The comments of Christian Horner this summer and Mr Marko are completely out of context and surprising about me causing chaos or being difficult to work with.
“One, they have never worked with me. And second, they have chased me on five or six occasions over the last seven years. And now they say that — that they are loyal to their program and their junior drivers.
“It has been weird and unfair to me.
“I wrote to Christian after his comments this summer. He apologised on email and hopefully he will apologise again this weekend”
RICCIARDO GRID PENALTY EXPECTED IN ITALY
He hasn’t finished on the podium since May, and retired from three of the last five races, but there isn’t quite going to be any respite for Daniel Ricciardo yet as the team are expecting him to have to take engine penalties at Monza for further power unit changes.
“Daniel Ricciardo will be taking an engine penalty next weekend and Max will be taking his third unit there, hopefully without penalty,” Christian Horner told Sky F1.
“We will be trying to get ourselves in the best position we can going to Singapore which is probably our next big hope of challenging Ferrari and Mercedes.”
STROLL LAUNCHES SELF DEFENCE
With a switch to Force India for Lance Stroll in likely place of Esteban Ocon for 2019 or earlier one of the biggest talking points in F1 following the takeover of the team by the Canadian’s father, Stroll Jr has come out fighting in the wake of fresh questions surrounding the merits of his F1 candidature.
In an interview with London’s The Telegraph, Stroll says: “I won championships and races and earned my super licence to get to Formula 1. Of course, I was very fortunate to be in the position I was in, but at the same time I delivered. I think I deserve a bit more credit.”
He added: “If he takes me to Force India, that’s his choice, and I understand that for Esteban, that might not be great or fair. But I think that I deserve to be recognised more for the results I’ve achieved. I wanted to get that off my chest.”
MERCEDES TO DECIDE BOTTAS TITLE ROLE AFTER MONZA
Toto Wolff says Mercedes will not yet reduce Valtteri Bottas to a support role in Lewis Hamilton’s title bid — but admits the team will readdress the situation after the Italian GP.
Bottas is now 88 points behind his championship-leading teammate with just eight races remaining, making him a rank outsider for the title himself.
But asked if Bottas would now be sacrificed to help Hamilton with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel now just 17 points behind him, Wolff said: “I hate to do that. It’s completely against my racing instinct.
“We try to be very neutral to both drivers and we haven’t done it yet, and we haven’t discussed it.
“At the moment we owe it to the two men and to Formula 1, to not interfere into the racing.”
But the Mercedes boss added: “Let’s see how Monza pans out and how it goes and then we will address the question whether we need to put all force behind the one driver.”