Lewis Hamilton, Christian Horner, Shanghai International Circuit, 2015

Hamilton “was desperate to drive for Red Bull” – Horner

2016 F1 seasonPosted on Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton made more than one attempt to leave McLaren for Red Bull, according to their team principal Christian Horner.

Speaking to F1 Racing magazine Horner revealed Hamilton approached him about a seat at Red Bull in 2011 and 2012 before making his move to Mercedes in 2013. According to Horner, the fact Sebastian Vettel occupied one of their seats prevented it from happening.

“He was desperate to drive for the team,” said Horner. “In 2012, he wanted to come and drive for us, but there was no way we could accommodate him while Sebastian was with us. Then before he signed for Mercedes he was very keen to drive for Red Bull for 2013.”

Horner said he played a role in Hamilton landing at Mercedes in 2013 and admitted he did not expect the team would become the dominant force they now are.

“The McLaren had been very competitive in 2011 and 2012 and I thought it would probably be better for us for him to be at Mercedes than McLaren, so in the event of us not being able to sign him I encouraged Niki Lauda to sign him to weaken McLaren – not envisaging that Mercedes would become the absolute powerhouse they are today.”

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80 comments on “Hamilton “was desperate to drive for Red Bull” – Horner”

  1. That was then, as things currently stand I bet Hamilton is desperate not to drive for Red Bull.

    1. I believe we could say that “backfired”. In quite spectacular fashion.

      1. I believe using backfired in this circumstance would be the complete wrong use of the term.

        (1) Hamilton could have done no better than either Dan @ RB last year…
        (2) even if merc ran 1 car against the other teams 2, rosberg would be a double WDC if Ham remained at Mac

        Nobody could stop Merc after their tyre tests (testing 2014 rubber during the 2013 season) and half billion dollar PU investment.

        What I believe, is that we now have proof Ham would still be a 1X WDC if it wasnt for Horner so he and his fans should be thanking christian.

        1. And who’s to say had he gone to RedBull in 2011, he still wouldn’t be a 3x WDC?

          Your assumptions of what might have happened had he not gone to Mercedes is not proof of anything. Well unless you could’ve seen the future

          1. …from the guy who thinks red bull were a works team, not shocked that you missed the details from my last sentence.

          2. “And who’s to say had he gone to RedBull in 2011, he still wouldn’t be a 3x WDC?”

            Mr. Horner is to say if he was going to Red Bull, and he was EXPLICIT in stating that he wasnt going to RB, desperate as he was.

            So, last sentence, details.. etc.

        2. Even more, could Mercedes use team orders and MSC becomes 8x and 9x WDC… And due to winter preparations not have a skiing accident?

          What if… I bet Michael would get some wins..

          But who knows, what could have happend. Imagine Alonso at RBR instead of Ferrari, would Vettel hand him the azz? Or would Kimi be WDC with Ferrari again… Or even Massa after RBR would implode under ego of Alo Vet…

        3. I think he means it backfired for Christian Horner, referring to the last paragraph about getting Lewis to Mercedes to weaken McLaren.

          1. Lewis going to Mercedes had nothing to do with McLarens downfall or Mercedes dominance… if either one of those were the opposite then yes, quite a backfire for Mr Horner… even worse than renaults PU backfires.

        4. You assume Hamilton isn’t as good as Dan, but where is your proof? Hamilton is one of the best drivers currently in F1, and it just happens he drives for Mercedes. If he was in Red Bull he would still be one of the best drivers in F1, but have to accept the car was less than the best on the grid, so his results wouldn’t be as good as they were. However, he’d have made it obvious he was better than Dan. I believe he would have got some podiums, more than what Red Bull currently have, but really that is just speculation. No one can be sure how he’d have performed.

          1. All we know is that had lewis stayed at Mac, they might have had an odd higher finish or two, but no podiums.

            And had lewis not gone to Merc, they would still be dominating.

            Lewis isnt the common factor in either of those events though.

            Had Mac’s car not turned into a backmarker, then lewis’ departure would have definitely been damaging to them.

        5. And if it wasn’t for his parents he wouldn’t have been born, so we can now definitively say he would have still been a zero time world time champion…and if his pilot had crashed the plane on his jet setting adventures when he first signed for Mercedes he would have only been a one time world champion…hell if that banana peel hadn’t been picked up by the trashman he could have slipped on it and died and only been a one time world champion..so Hamilton fans should thank his parents, the pilot of his private jet, and trashman for his success….

      2. What goes around comes around Mr. Horner. Watch out or McLaren will beat you also…

    2. It actually makes Lewis look good and doesn’t make any good for RB image. If in one hand it shows Lewis was not afraid of having Seb as teammate, the other side proves that RB was keen to protect their #1 driver way of thinking…

      1. That what i thought. It shows the guy wasn’t afraid to take Vettel on while Red Bull shows that it was actually following number 1 driver way and Webber really was number 2 since he said “It wouldn’t happen when we had Vettel” therefore Vettel is why it wasn’t happening not Webber.

  2. Irony of fate:-)
    And another irony is the fact that Hamiltons enemy from his first year at McLaren, Alonso, is now driving for McLaren again, and probably more than desparate to get away, or maybe he has accepted his fate…If I was religious I would have wondered where Alonso picked up all that bad karma.

    1. @palle: 2007 Hungarian GP qualifying, 2008 Singapore GP race, 2010 German GP race, 2012 US GP grid

      1. 2012 US GP grid ?

        Can’t remember, please refresh my memory.

        1. Googled it, never mind. Poor Felipe baby!

          1. without going over old ground the only relevant one there is Hungary 07 and even that was tit for tat with Lewis & he was given a penalty for a rule that didn’t even exist.

            As for singapore only someone with very little knowledge of basic F1(in the refuelling era) strategy would think Alonso would risk his career for a win he didn’t need. Renault management needed that win badly to keep Renault in F1, Alonso already had a ferrari deal in his pocket. oh and not forgetting there was 4 other out of position cars on the same fuel strategy as Alonso which proves the strategy was valid.

            As for Germany and USA, harsh on felipe but no different to what any other team was doing or is doing. No one cared when JPM had to give Kimi a race win in 05 to help his title challenge.

          2. alonso surely wouldnt risk his career for a win he didnt need. but he does refuse to take that win off his total win count. shameful. only someone with very little knowledge of F1 would think that alonso didnt figure out the true story after seeing the telemetry. within 1 or 2 days of that race alonso was more than in on the secret, yet he remained quiet. what a sportsman!

            flavio had no problem throwing his own career under the bus to protect his golden goose, who is still under his management.

          3. RaceProUK (@)
            18th January 2016, 23:30

            I find it amusing how people still cling to the idea that someone who did nothing wrong should feel guilty about it.

          4. @RaceProUK

            You have no problems with that win staying on Alonso’s win count?

            Fred is that you?

      2. @malik: If I were religious, I would say You’re right. And maybe it is enough if Alonso believes and thus mentally accepts that he “deserves” it, he he…

    2. You think Alonso is unlucky – look up Chris Amon and especially what Mario Andretti said!

  3. I thought we knew that Lewis wanted to go to RBR at the time. I can only assume this is another silly attempt to destabilise Lewis. Trouble is, isnt it just another example of Horner attempting to manipulate events only for it back fire?

    1. I’m sure a bad hair day will destabilize LH before anything else.

      1. Hahaha!

    2. I can only assume this is another silly attempt to destabilise Lewis.

      Or maybe he’s just answering a question and telling the truth.

      “The McLaren had been very competitive in 2011 and 2012 and I thought it would probably be better for us for him to be at Mercedes than McLaren, so in the event of us not being able to sign him I encouraged Niki Lauda to sign him to weaken McLaren – not envisaging that Mercedes would become the absolute powerhouse they are today.”

      Who would have thought McLaren would be that bad after the 2012 season? Hamilton’s move to Mercedes is the kind of career choice you make once in a lifetime.

    3. Yes, this is extremely old news. Horner living in the past as always.

  4. I wouldnt be so quick to judge Horner. We can only thank him for enlightment of past events he brings to view.

    But also it shows it is no secret Hamilton is a triple wold champion now. He was real comfy in that McLaren team, but it was not the fastest, neither it had Championship potential, nor works status with Mercedes nor nothing.

    So he did the only smart thing and tried to land a more advantageous seat. If he started doing so at 2011 it only shows his smartness more. Red Bull was the dominant car of the era.

    But we must not attribute to much to Hamilton’s career choices. Mercedes is only his second team so far, not like he repeatedly made a poor choice like Alonso. So far each team he was in, was a championship winning team. It would be astonishing if he manages to win a championship with a third team.

    1. @jureo, well said!

      Interesting thing is they didn’t dare to pair up Lewis with Sebastian. They could probably have replaced Webber much earlier, but they didn’t. If this was out of the respect between Mateschitz and Webber, or if they didn’t wanted to destabilize Vettel, one can wonder.

      1. This is common practice, you do not want to change a winning formula.

        Why would you? Also a reason Kimi is very safe at Ferrari, so was Massa.

        And so is Nico. Only Nico is a bit to fast for a solid #2.

    2. I think that too much is made of Alonso’s so-called ‘bad career choices’. I don’t attribute this to the contributor exclusively; it’s more the general idea that amuses and perplexes me. In December 2005, the best seat for the 2007 looked to be either McLaren (possibly against one of the best drivers on the grid in Raikkonen), Ferrari (where there was no sign of Schumacher retirement) and Renault (where he was and would win another title the next year). It was a brave move to leave a team where you had won so regularly and in early 2006 Alonso must have questioned if he had made the right decision. It’s also worth pointing out that in 2005, Alonso could not possibly envisage that a rookie, yet to compete in GP2, would be able to come in and control the politics of the team over a year later. So I feel that the change to McLaren was a perfect career move.

      When his time at McLaren unravelled in late 2007 there were no top seats available. I imagine that to be the case in almost every season where there is realistically going to be only two teams fighting at the front for the next year. So his options were BMW Sauber, who took only one win before pulling the plug, Red Bull, who had shown no signs of getting to the front for the next season and Renault. Given Renault had the same personnel as when they had won 4 of the last 6 titles and were expecting to be slower in 2007 given the switch to Bridgestone, then surely the logical choice is to return? Flavio’s meltdown of 2008 caused a great deal of unrest and the team performed poorly in 2009. But given that Alonso ‘won’ the season half of the championship, albeit with the other teams preparing for the new rules, then I would class his return to Renault as a success despite being a marriage of convenience until another seat opened up.

      Moving to Ferrari for 2010 was good choice both at the time and in hindsight. He couldn’t move to Red Bull as they had set up their driver academy successfully nor McLaren. That means he could join Brawn or stay at Renault. Both of those would have been wrong. Ferrari during his era there did shoot themselves in the foot on a number of occasions but consider that either Alonso (and Renault) or Ferrari had won the title in 8 of the previous 10 seasons (or 17 out of 20 championships). I feel that was also the correct move although I concede that I have been critical of Ferrari in the past as they made many wrong decisions in Alonso’s time.

      As far as I’m concerned we can not judge his time at McLaren yet. It may prove to be right or it may prove to be wrong but I feel that having a factory engine is a necessity and think McLaren are as likely to challenge as anyone in 2017. The only argument against Alonso’s career moves can be timing. But that can only really apply to his time at Ferrari. In 2012, he could have left for Mercedes and that is an error but considering that he was in the title fight and in the form of his life, this seems unreasonable without a crystal ball or insider knowledge from within Mercedes, as Hamilton was undoubtedly privy to.

      For most of his career Alonso has had no real choices to make since his troublesome time at McLaren. Had that not happened we could be talking about him as a 6 or 7 time champion. But alas it did and whilst his career totals do not reflect his ability, he has made both bold and simple moves, which almost everyone would have made in his shoes. Sometimes that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

  5. So Hamilton knew he had to be in a top team to win the championship .

    1. Like any other world champion?

      Like Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo?

      Like Valentino Rossi and Marq Marquez?

      Like any other sports person that relies on a group of people?

      1. “Like Valentino Rossi and Marq Marquez?”

        Rossi doesnt need a top team.

        1. “Rossi doesn’t need a top team”…. Really??…. How was his time at Ducati?

          I’m a massive Rossi fan, but your comment is absolutely absurd.

          1. Ducati was a top team, he just couldn’t handle the beast like Stoner.

          2. Red Bull was a works team too right?

            Sorry, can’t take anyone seriously who believes that.

            Was Ducati the only team Rossi was at that wasn’t the dominate team at the time?

            Enough said. Red bull works lol.

        2. Sorry, i must have missed the championship he won on an LCR Honda.

          No matter how good you are as an individual, you havn’t won/won’t win a championship with an average team. If you’re in a team sport, and you’ve won a title, it’s because a lot of good people helped you get there.

        3. So that’s why he won double championshipa with Ducati, right?

    2. Ask Alonso, if he knows this also…

  6. I just wonder what would have happened if Hamilton had not joined Mercedes.

    I am pretty sure that Mercedes would still have been the team to beat in 2014 and 2015. While Hamilton obviously helped to develop the new car and his superstar status probably inspired the team as well, Mercedes would most likely still have successfully finished the long-term project of building the hybrid monster without Hamilton.

    So would Nico Rosberg now be a double world champion in that case? Or would Mercedes have snatched Vettel or Alonso for the job? Or maybe Schumacher would finally have shaken off the rust and won his eighth title?

    1. If you just took Hamilton out of the Mercedes equation, the cars were so far ahead that even if his input and feedback to the engineers deserved some credit, it would probably still have been a faster car even if not by as much.

      But would Paddy Lowe have gone there, and how much influence did he have? And all the other currently less well known engineers? I think it’s nearly impossible to actually work out all of the ripples that would cause.

      What if he’d gone to Red Bull instead, would they have been as uncompetitive in 2014?

    2. If Robserg would have been paired with an average driver, I’m pretty sure we would have a ‘Rosberg borefest’ right now.

    3. I do not know exactly how successful Mercedes would have been – powerful engine included, with Nico as their top driver paired with another chap. I am inclined to believe however that without the likes of Hamilton, Alonso or Seb at the wheels of that Mercedes, they (Mercedes) wouldn’t be back-to-back double world champions.

      Some are quick to trivialise the guy’s achievement with off-hand remarks attributing the team’s success to just the car being good, similar to what Seb endured while at Redbull. But it is no fluke that Mclaren sharply spiraled downwards the year Lewis left while the team he joined went from being 5th overall best the previous year to 2nd in the constructors champ. The following year they stormed to the front.

      Of course one cannot attribute a group’s success or failure to just one person but top notch drivers bring a lot to the table not just in notoriety but also inspiration and great feedbacks that ultimately moves everyone to the front, similar to what Seb is currently doing at Ferrari.

      So Hamilton is as good to Mercedes as the team is to him.

      1. Lol! absurd does not begin to describe this post, I guess thats why the none of the Merc drivers have pulled out a convincing result on the day the car is not dominant cue Malaysia, Hungary or Singapore.

        Delusion does not begin to describe this post

  7. It’d be interesting to know what context Horner is saying this in. What question was he asked? Where is the interview from?

  8. Hamilton was desperate to drive for the top team there was in 2011 and 2012. So! No big surprise. Every driver wants to be in the best car. Alonso also wanted that. Remember his interview when he said, “I want someone else’s car”.

    While it is tough to judge who out of Hamilton and Alonso is better on-track. Off-track, clearly; there is only 1 winner.

    1. “Off-track, clearly; there is only 1 winner”


  9. Don’t blame him… but probably as much to do with trying to get out of McLaren than into Red Bull. Expect he approached a few guys in red as well.

    1. “Expect he approached a few guys in red as well.”

      Yep. I believe he must have approached not just Redbull, but Ferrari at the time. It would be absurd for him not to have. It is expected of a good sports man in this case an F1 driver to scout for top teams to drive for as soon as they feel their current place was no longer conducive for them. It is not unheard of. Hamilton as it is now clear, had lost interest in continuing his sojourn with Mclaren as way back as 2011.

      I wonder what could have led to such decision.

      Can I assume his first Redbull approach was after Canada 2011 where he was rammed into the wall by his team mate and there was no reprimand or caution by the team.

  10. There are some drivers, like Hamilton and Vettel, who seem almost destined to land in a great car no matter where they go. Then there’s Alonso and to some extend Button, who keep finding themselves in bad cars no matter what.

    1. Not Button, he seems to find his way in to better and better position. It is Alonso who bails right before team improves.

      1. @jureo
        Oh yes, because Button has spend the majority of his career in great cars, like he did from 2000 to 2008, or every season since 2013. Oh wait.

        Overall, the machinery Button has received throughout his career has been very comparable to what Alonso has received.

        1. But Button never was a start until 2009, the way Alonso was. Alonso very soon found way to top teams, and after Renault never again was in title winning car.

          Button was kinda like say Riciardo is now, hot young driver unable to get to a current title winning team.

  11. I quite wanted to see Lewis and Newey working together.

    Anyway I doubt Horner made any difference, Brawn was always going to go after Hamilton, and Niki too.

  12. Of course! What driver wouldn’t of been desperate to get in a Red Bull back then

  13. Few things stands out for me with this revelation:

    1. Hamilton was disillusioned with the McLaren as far back as 2011 especially under Martin Whitmarsh and Jenson Button show. But one can understand that afterall, Button was pretty much running the team under Whitmarsh. Whitmarsh for me was the thing that was wrong with McLaren and before anyone jump on the Ron hasn’t fared better since his return, I put that down more to the Honda engine which is diabolical to say the least.

    2. Hamilton was fearless and not scared to go against Vettel. That’s something I’ve always know about Hamilton not being scared to go against any driver in F1. That can’t be said for some who would’ve clearly veto a team’s driver choice.

    3. Even Horner realises the threat of Hamilton by admitting that in helping Hamilton land the Mercedes drive, his objective was to weaken Mclaren. That is Maximum respect right there to think one driver good enough to weaken a team by their departure.

    1. Really pking008 pretty sure Button’s not frightened of going up against any F1 driver . How many people thought he was wrong to leave Brawn and take Lewis on in a team where he was top boy ?

      1. Was Jenson right to leave, er, Mercedes?? And I know his fans like to cite the points but the people that matter in the pitplane know that JB established himself as a great No.2 at McLaren.

        Not that going there wasn’t brave as you say, although iirc it was his only option really after Brawn had made it clear he wasn’t too bothered. It wasn’t really like risking wdc’s as Seb or Lewis would be doing if they teamed up (wish they would though).

  14. True, out of precieved top 3, Ham,Vet,Alo… only Ham will take anyone on willingly.

    But Button seems to have done so aswell and persevered a Winner – kinda.

    Would Vettel be 4 time champion if Hamilton went to Red Bull in 2012? Would internal drama lead to Alonso winning atleast 1 title?

    Who would win, what do you guys think?

    1. If Hamilton had joined Red Bull in 2012, he’d have won the championship. The 2012 Red Bull was a beast but Vettel was asleep at the start of the season, as proved by Webber beating him in the first half of the season. Hamilton was close to peak form throughout whilst Alonso’s form went down in the last 3 races. 2013 would have been fun though but I reckon Hamilton would do to Vettel what he did to Rosberg and pretty sure Vettel would have left Red Bull then for Ferrari with Alonso going to Mercedes in 2014. Hamilton vs Ricciardo, Rosberg vs Alonso, Vettel vs Kimi. Horner ruined the script, it would have been so much fun.

      1. @donlijez -So Vettel was asleep because he slipped behind his teammate in the standings after the alternator failure in Valencia when he otherwise would have taken the championship lead. But apparently a season of finishing 20pts in front of Rosberg who had 3 more mechanical DNFs is better than the season of a guy breaking a 60 year old record for consecutive wins.

        1. Lool, you think Rosberg had 3 more mechanical DNFs? Also, Rosberg and Hamilton were both similarly aged, Rosberg had 3 more years in the team, whilst Vettel had a 36 year old team-mate. You’re one of those glory hunters. I’ll take a good intra-team fight with 20 points difference over someone breaking a 60 year record any time. If he broke the record against someone of similar age then I’d be impressed, but against Webber? No. Even if Rosberg had more DNFs, Hamilton confirmed his status the following season, whilst Vettel ran off from a young competitor to another Webber (Kimi).

        2. @donlijez

          Lool, you think Rosberg had 3 more mechanical DNFs?

          Well yes, because in 2013 he had did not finish the Australian, Chinese or Hungarian GPs with mechanical issues. Hamilton’s only DNF was through contact.

          Also, Rosberg and Hamilton were both similarly aged, Rosberg had 3 more years in the team, whilst Vettel had a 36 year old team-mate.

          The same Webber beat Rosberg, and had more years at Red Bull than Vettel.

          You’re one of those glory hunters.

          So disagreeing with your speculative post makes me a glory hunter? Judging Vettel’s 2013 performance on what he achieved is being a glory hunter? But of course, the likes of you belittling others accomplishments makes a proper F1 fan nowadays.

          Even if Rosberg had more DNFs, Hamilton confirmed his status the following season, whilst Vettel ran off from a young competitor to another Webber (Kimi).

          I could flip it around and claim Hamilton wanted to run off from the older Jenson Button in a poor 2011 for him. But of course, we have seen Mclaren’s fall from grace and Red Bull have done the same. That is why Ham/Vet moved.

          Hamilton only joined Merc in 2013, so I suppose he hadn’t confirmed his status at that point. Vettel didn’t have to confirm his status at Red Bull, as a quadruple champion with them. Despite a poor 2014 they hold him in high enough regard to cheer for him when he won his 3 races in 2015, despite lapping their cars in one of them and directly preventing Red Bull wins in the other 2.

  15. What I take from this is that Horner is fine with playing a game to try to destabilize a team, in this case using a driver in the attempt, but he is not fine with Merc and Ferrari playing a game of keep away with their engines to destabilize RBR. No, when it comes to PU’s RBR deserves golden treatment and parity with the works teams Merc and Ferrari…so that he can then proceed to figure out ways to screw those teams as a reward for their generosity. Not that I am naive and don’t think all teams are trying to do this all the time, but it just highlights to me the hypocrisy of RBR’s sense of entitlement.

  16. I just do not understand why Horner always feels the need to make these kind of remarks.

    1. RaceProUK (@)
      19th January 2016, 19:20

      Desperate plea for attention? Not necessarily for him, but the team.

      1. I think you have the answer to my Lewis/underwear/Instagram question.

        Thanks for the answer!

        1. You sure do love Lewis Mr. X.

    2. Do you understand why Lewis posts pictures of himself in underwear on Twitter?

  17. If Hamilton went to redbull in 2012 he still be a 3 time wc.Mercedes Hire Alonso instead of lewis in 2014 and Alonso become 4 time wc.Vettel may go to ferrari in 2014 coz of burst up with Hamilton and remains 2 time wc.

    1. @manas Nah, no-one was near Vet in 2013. And Ham lost 2012 in the fastest car.

      1. In the faster car. Not really. Red Bull was about the same but even if it was the fastest car it certainly wasn’t the best car or the best team because it doesn’t matter how fast the car can go when it breaks or when the team forget to put the proper fuel.

        1. @solo
          Mclaren had reliablity issues, but had 2012’s fastest car according to the data:

          And Red Bull had reliability issues too, unlike Ferrari.

          1. The thing is Vettel didn’t have as much issues as Hamilton had. There is no way you can say Hamilton lost the 2012 championship since the lost points weren’t his own doing. 2012 was the year he hardly made any mistake. Is the only year i can’t find even one block-headed move by him that lost him much. Let’s not forget that the 2012 car was mostly fast on Hamilton hands while Button was fighting for quite lower positions for at least half the races.
            There were also things that when we measure reliability and other factors are never measured in the 2012 year. For example Hamilton had a tyre explode that put him in the back at one race(i think it was Germany, am not too sure) and in Korea it seemed like he was just slow barely getting 2 points but then we learned the car suspension was broken in the back or how the team send him in the back after putting less fuel in Spain etc. He was also victim of Grosjean’s crazy start learning phase in Belgium.
            None of this things are something the driver could possibly do anything about and are not even measured in the reliability problems etc since we just measure how many times he fully retired due to mechanical and nothing else.
            F1fanatic is guilty of this too every time it tried to measure if two drivers had similar reliability etc.

            And in all this i haven’t even measured the bad pit-stop and strategies Mclaren made while Red Bull was quite flawless in that department.

            In 2012 Mclaren couldn’t win despite having a fast car(at least according to one driver) but Hamilton certainly could. Hamilton didn’t lose that championship, Mclaren did.

          2. Yes, I appreciate that Hamilton drove well in 2012, but none of this explains how he can be proclaimed as 2012 champion in a Red Bull, over that season’s actual top three.

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